High School Sports

No mistake: Seahawks triumph in 4

When the Hilton Head High volleyball team decided during its team dinner Tuesday night to pull up the Class 3-A volleyball bracket and do a little scouting on North Myrtle Beach, the Seahawks were shocked by what they saw.

And when it came time to close out the Lower State title match Wednesday night, they were energized by the image burned in their minds.

"It had a typo that we had already won three games to one, so we knew that fourth game was ours," Seahawks senior Margo Dill said. "We knew it. It was just like fate."

Hilton Head High made that misprint seem prophetic, rallying after losing the first game to beat the Chiefs 22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-21 and advance to the Class 3-A championship match for the second time in three years. The Seahawks will face Nation Ford -- which beat Daniel 25-14, 25-19, 25-23 -- at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at White Knoll High School in Lexington.

The return trip to the title match certainly didn't come easily.

The Seahawks (30-4) dropped the last five points to lose the first game, and they appeared destined for a similar collapse when they squandered three game points in the second game. But Judy Slow slammed down two of her match-high 18 kills to get back to game point, and Dill -- a right-hander -- used her left hand for the block that evened the match at a game apiece.

Dill's left hand came back into play late in the fourth game. With North Myrtle Beach leading 21-19 and threatening to force a fifth game, Dill went up for an attack but watched as Melissa Damas' set sailed a bit too far for her to reach it. She contorted her body and swung with her left hand, and the result was the last of her 11 kills.

Dill served out the remaining five points to close out the match and send the Seahawks into the title tilt.

"That's an athlete right there," Seahawks coach Garret Talarczyk said. "The set wasn't there for her, but she was able to adjust with her other hand and bring it back into play. That was huge."

The Chiefs (29-3) played the first two games without leading attacker Grace Jones, who sprained her ankle during practice Tuesday. When she entered in the third game, Jones was an immediate factor, and she finished with seven kills, but Chiefs coach Estelle Barentine said the senior middle hitter wasn't herself.

"It was kind of hard for her to block because of that ankle, but at least she wanted to get out there and play," Barentine said. "We just weren't able to set her as much as normal. She usually averages about 15 kills."

The Seahawks had an ailing star of their own in Slow, who has been nursing a back injury throughout the playoffs. One of six seniors for Hilton Head High, Slow has led the Seahawks in kills in all four playoff matches.

Three of those seniors -- Damas, Dill and libero Maraia Tremarelli -- were on Hilton Head High's last Lower State championship team, which was swept in three games by Upper State powerhouse Pickens.

In that one, the Seahawks dropped a tight first game, then collapsed.

This team has already proven to itself it can overcome such adversity, and those seniors are eager for another shot at a state title.

"That's kind of the goal we had all season," said Damas, who had a match-high 24 assists, eight kills and three blocks. "We knew tonight was going to be tough, but we pulled it out in four, so we're all just going crazy right now. At least I am."