High School Sports

Whale Branch opens its season with sweep of county foes

Kimberly Nicholson admonished her volleyball team early during its matches Tuesday.

Wait until the whistle blows to celebrate, the Whale Branch High School coach told her players. She wanted the Warriors to maintain their focus throughout.

Whale Branch was playing well, almost too well for its coach, who thought the Warriors dragged out some games during its sweep of Beaufort County rivals Beaufort High School and Battery Creek.

The Warriors defeated the Eagles 25-22, 25-22 and rallied late to sweep the host Dolphins, 25-8, 25-23. Beaufort High rolled past Battery Creek in two games, winning 25-18, 25-14.

The tri-match was the first action of the season for the three squads, outside of preseason tournaments. Nicholson said her second-year squad has high expectations, if it can keep up mentally.

Whale Branch returns the same team from its inaugural season and added freshman Shaniqua Johnson.

"We're going to be good, it's just a matter of staying focused during the game," said Nicholson. "We get bored way too easily."

Jamie Whalen tallied seven aces and seven kills to help Whale Branch (2-0) down the Eagles. She added four kills during the victory over Battery Creek. Warriors senior Deborah Fields led the team with eight kills against the Dolphins.

The match marked the debut for Beaufort High coach Corrie Frohnapfel, the Eagles' third volleyball coach in as many seasons. The Lady's Island Middle School teacher said she was excited about the group she inherited, that the team's nine seniors sought her out before the season to ask what needed to be done to have a successful year.

The Eagles (1-1) graduated standout Deja Jackson but brought back a healthy roster. Senior captain Kayla Ferguson served up 12 unanswered points, including three aces, to start the second game against Battery Creek. Eagles seniors Janelle Berks and Amber Gant were responsible for six blocks each during the two matches.

Frohnapfel said the team's goal is to win Region 8-AAAA, that the Eagles don't want to make the same mistakes after correcting them early. Among the initial issues she hopes are wiped out include a lack of communication and players not moving their feet.

"Those are things we can control," Frohnapfel said.

The host Dolphins have struggled early to have a healthy team at practice, dealing with various injuries and illnesses, coach Stephanie Weltz said. Battery Creek (0-2) was a point away from forcing a third game in its final match with Whale Branch before the Warriors came back.

Sara Anderson helped lead the Dolphins with three aces and three kills against Whale Branch. Battery Creek's Stephanie Colleran and Sharea Walls each added three aces during the match.

"We're working really hard," Weltz said. "I anticipate a really good season. I feel like we could have had both matches, I really do."