HS Volleyball Preview: Area Teams Have Lofty Expectations, As Usual

The Lowcountry has been a hotbed for volleyball talent in recent years, and 2017 should be no different.

Local teams hit the court beginning this week, and many of them have realistic hopes of extending their seasons deep into the playoffs – and perhaps winning state championships.

Hilton Head Island High School has its sights set on a state title in Class 4A after bowing out in the second round of the playoffs last season. The Seahawks have plenty of competition just to continue their dominance in Region 8-4A, beginning with county rival Beaufort High School. The Eagles also were bounced in the second round of the playoffs last season, but they bring back 10 letterwinners and view this as the year they can challenge the Seahawks.

Bluffton High School hopes to take full advantage of its final season in Class 3A by building off last year’s run to the Lower State final, and the Bobcats will be the clear favorites in Region 8-3A despite losing four key players off last year’s team.

In the private school ranks, Hilton Head Christian Academy returns most of its nucleus after going 1-2 at the SCISA Class 2A state tournament a year ago, and Beaufort Academy brings back the entire starting lineup from a team that made a deep run in the SCISA Class 1A tournament last fall, reaching the semifinals before dropping a tough three-set match to Mead Hall.


Battery Creek HS

Coach: Torri McCullough (4th season)

Region: 8-3A

Returning letterwinners: 6

Top returners: Mia DeBardelaben, Ta Quasha Lampkin, McKenzie Young, Michaex Gee, Emily Crosby

Key losses: Ahjah Parker, Cecillia Williams

Key newcomers: Laiani McCullough, Olivia Gee

Coach’s outlook: As a program we will continue to compete and measure our standards for growth and improvement against well-established teams in our district such as Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, with their yearly successes. We have to continue to work hard both on and off the court. When I speak to the team, I always talk about performing the basics during competition while playing as a team, making sure to do their assigned job and everything else will fall in line. This year our plan is to continue to improve on the basics, while celebrating our accomplishments as a team on and off the court.


Beaufort Academy

Coach: Donna Patrick (4th season)

Region: SCISA 4-2A

Returning letterwinners: 8

Top returners: EmilyAnn Hiers, Courtney Kirberger, Amelia Huebel, Alyssa Patrick, Emma Hincher

Key losses: None

Key newcomers: Emilie Claire Nason

Coach’s outlook: We return all starters from a team that reached the semifinals of the state tournament last year and got off to a strong start in the recent Beaufort County volleyball scrimmage day.  We made some adjustments to positions, and they are already playing better than they finished last year.  I’m looking forward to watching them do some amazing things.  Our team is full of talented and versatile players.  They can all play several positions and although we are not a power team, we will not go down without a fight and constant hustle.


Beaufort HS

Coach: Mike Dixon (2nd season)

Region: 8-4A

Returning letterwinners: 10

Top returners: S Macy Purdy, S Madison Gallion, OH Kaylie Richardson, MH Hannah Phillips

Key losses: Julie Smith

Key newcomers: Chase Vaigneur, Caroline Malphrus, McCayla Willingham, Lillian Sumner

Coach’s outlook: Our goal is to knock perennial region champion Hilton Head Island out of the top spot. With five seniors on this year’s team and an abundance of great young talent it is up to the coaching staff and players to make it happen.


Bluffton HS

Coach: Tina Franklin (3rd season)

Region: 8-3A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Megan Briody, Bethany Mullins, Lizzie Rhoads, Essence Mitchell, Priscilla Jean, Emma Rhoads, Lauren Poppy

Key losses: Annie Franklin, Lindsay Hyer, Shadaisha Altacho, Lanitra Ferguson

Key newcomers: Madison Denny

Coach’s outlook: We’re planning on another strong season both in and out of the region as well as on and off the court. The girls are starting out strong again this year and ready to compete.


Hilton Head Christian Academy

Coach: Steve DeSimone (8th season)

Region: SCISA 4-2A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Sydney DeSimone, Brielle McCarthy, Lauryn Qualls, Olivia Reichenbach, Cortney Gray, Jane Bender, Julia Wilder

Key losses: Andi Jacobs

Key newcomers: Ady O’Grady, Amy Murphy, Hannah DeSalve, Sydney Mink, Samantha Norton

Coach’s outlook: With teamwork and chemistry, the Lady Eagles should go very far in the state playoff picture.

Hilton Head Island HS

Coach: Garret Talarczyk (13th season)

Region: 8-4A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Sydney Janson, Grace Vanderslice, Lexie Standen, Carly Timperman, Kate Schwartz, Sophia Kaup, Olivia Janson

Key losses: Da’Nesha Miller, Katie Cameron, Alexxia Andreas, McKenna Leitner

Key newcomers: Lydia Schubert, Vernonique Mangun, Brooke Simons

Coach’s outlook: The girls are setting the bar higher this year, focusing more on the process of getting better every day. They are being more mindful at practice, whether it’s skills or building relationships with team players, and overall being more disciplined. We have many girls coming in early and staying later to work on their skills. We are seeing a lot of leadership from the younger girls, and we have a lot of height this year. We’re very excited about the season and looking to win a state championship.


Hilton Head Prep

Coach: Amber Swisher (3rd season)

Region: SCISA 4-2A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Keira Wojcikiewicz, Olivia Mitchell, Kaitlyn Adkins

Key newcomers: Ashley Wilmot

Coach’s outlook: The Dolphins return five starters from last year’s squad and are strengthened by some exciting new talent. The focus so far this season has been improving our offense. We have strong, returning players that will anchor and help support our new players.


John Paul II

Coach: Kelsey Fink (2nd season)

Region: SCISA 4-2A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Abigail Barker, Darby O’Donnell, Marissa Majorkiewicz, Jasmine Hamilton, Mary Foster Gaillard

Key losses: Abby Puplava

Key newcomers: Taylor Michael, Elena Senouillet, Ayannah Thompson

Coach’s outlook: With nearly all of last year’s starters returning, the JP2 volleyball team is looking stronger than ever. JV players from last year and a senior transfer student have stepped up to replace the departing players. Everyone is already playing at a higher level than we ended the season last year. Everyone has gained a lot of knowledge, skill, and athleticism in the off season through open gyms, conditionings, other sports, and club volleyball. We are working hard to place in the top half of our region and make it to the state tournament this year.


May River HS

Coach: Aaron Johnson (2nd season)

Region: 8-3A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Bridget Connolly, Sydney Clegg, Elexis Ramsey, Sophia Disario, Nicole Jaramillo, Keelin McAlpine, Kylie Puplava

Key losses: None

Key newcomers: Addison Black, Chynna Sneed, Abby Puplava, Natalia Villalobos, Jordan Bigham, Lauren Madden

Coach’s outlook: After bowing out in the first round of the playoffs in their first year, the Sharks aim to move deeper into the playoffs. They have a strong young core of players that will be led by four senior returners. Expect a competitive and hard-working team that is looking to upset top teams.


Thomas Heyward Academy

Coach: Trish Bryan (1st season)

Region: SCISA 4-2A

Returning letterwinners: 7

Top returners: Emma Richardson, Victoria Standard, Chelsea Schroeder, Bailey Brown, Ivy Bryan, Jana Christian, Kindall Smith

Key losses: Jamie Davis, Madison Cooler, Haylee Wade

Key newcomers: Brooklyn Guardino

Coach’s outlook: This season we will have to work smarter. Last year we had a very noticeable game plan, which was get the ball to Madison Cooler for the kill. This year it is going to take every player on the court giving 100 percent on every rotation. By being scrappy and not giving in, I feel like we will hang around in most of our matches this season.


Whale Branch Early College HS

Coach: Quan Pollock (3rd season)

Region: 6-2A

Returning letterwinners: 2

Top returners: Whitney Salters, Allona Carter

Key losses: Tamia Reid, Ebony Beasley, Kendra Crawford, Nayla Badger, Zhani Thompson

Key newcomers: Jameisha Green, Maleah Parker

Coach’s outlook: We are looking forward to a season of growth. We are young and eager to learn. We hope to end the season healthy.

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