The banners hanging in the Hilton Head Island High School gymnasium tout all of the Seahawk volleyball team's region championships. State title banners, on the other hand, are nowhere to be found.
Hilton Head High is hoping to change that this season, as the Seahawks trot out a talented bunch that seems poised to go the distance this year in the Class 3-A playoffs. The team jump-started its postseason run Tuesday night, trouncing visiting Midland Valley 25-19, 25-13, 25-14.
"We're not cocky but we know that if we play the way we know how to play, then we're going to go far," senior captain Carter Julseth said. "All of these girls are really talented, and with all of our talents combined, we're going to go far."
Julseth was a sophomore when the Seahawks last made the state title game, which ended up as a sweep at the hands of Nation Ford in 2010. Coach Garret Talarczyk has guided Hilton Head High to state title appearances in two of the last four seasons but came up short both times.
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This group is determined to change that.
"We have the talent and I know we can do it," Talarczyk said. "When we're on our game, we're a very strong team. ... Obviously, that was our goal from day one.
"The girls come to practice and we work hard. Every day we talk about it. That's what we want to do."
A year ago, the Seahawks had to battle back from an 0-2 hole to claim three consecutive sets in the postseason opener against St. James. But no drama was necessary Tuesday.
Midland Valley jumped out to an early 7-3 advantage before Hilton Head High (21-6) battled back to take seven of the next nine points en route to its first lead of the night. And after the Mustangs battled back to temporarily tie it up, the Seahawks reeled off 11 of the next 12 before holding off a late rally to claim the first game.
It was all business from there, as the Seahawks cruised with relative ease over the final two games.
The early deficit was due in part to a change in the rotation, as Hilton Head High moved away from the 5-1 rotation that it employed all season in favor of a 6-2 look. The move paid off as the match wore on.
"They adjusted well, but we were getting used to it," Talarczyk said. "So we started off a little slow, but the second half we started putting some balls down. Our offense was starting to generate a little bit better there."
Brantley Herrington -- the only sophomore named to the Class 3-A all-state team this year -- led the Seahawks with 11 assists, eight kills and three blocks. Fellow sophomore Sierra Davis chipped in eight kills while Mallory Lewis added three blocks of her own. Renee Homad tallied 11 assists.
"I feel like this year we bonded a lot more," Herrington said. "We've been with each other a lot more and have had more heart-to-hearts this year. We've worked through some things but we seem to be meshing better."
The Seahawks will return to the Hilton Head High gymnasium on Thursday, where they will host the winner of the Socastee-Crestwood match. Hilton Head High has home court all the way through the Lower State finals.
Julseth and the rest of the Seahawks are naturally counting on being there.
"We've grown so much this season already from the beginning," she said. "I think we can get to states if we just play the way I know we can play."