It may have seemed like a far-fetched dream earlier this year, but as the ball hit the floor on match point Monday night, that dream came true. This team of destiny is on to the state finals.
Hilton Head High’s volleyball squad vanquished the Aiken Green Hornets on Monday night, winning 3-1 to punch their ticket to Thursday’s 4A state championship match.
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“It’s the best feeling,” senior Brooke Simons said. “Monday night was an amazing win. Everybody came, everybody played hard. It’s been a great season, full of ups and downs but I can definitely say that we made the best out of a time where we didn’t even know if we would have a season six months ago. Now we’re playing for a state title on Thursday. “
It’s been a season of overcoming adversity, and the Seahawks did it again to move one win away from a storybook ending. After Aiken took a pivotal nail-biting opening set 28-26, the ‘Hawks stayed focused and captured the next three (25-22, 25-19, 25-19) to claim their first Lower State championship since 2015.
Junior Kenzie Ryan came up huge for Hilton Head, leading the way with 25 kills. Ady O’ Grady contributed 15 kills, and Ava Edri added 12 along with seven from Abby Jacobs. Makenna Mason was sensational at setter again, posting 55 assists.
“We’re a very mentally tough team and we never give up,” said O’Grady. “It’s really good that we can overcome that and end up winning. Staying mentally tough is something that Coach stresses a lot and is very important to our team. No matter what happens in the game, if you keep up the right mindset and never give up you’ll end up on top.”
The Seahawks will travel to Irmo High School on Thursday to face a powerhouse Pickens team who has yet to drop a single set in the postseason, picking an impressive sweep over Indian Land in the Upper State final. This is the fourth straight state championship appearance for the Blue Flame, but they’ve dropped the previous three. It’ll also be a rematch of the 2014 championship, where Pickens emerged victorious in four sets. The Seahawks are looking to grab their first title since 2015, when they took down Eastside in four.
Simons earned this chance to go out as a champion. After six years of hard work in this program and her push for safety in this unprecedented 2020 season, there isn’t anyone more deserving of this opportunity. It’s also a chance for underclassmen like Makenna Mason to establish themselves as leaders who can help their team to victory on the biggest stage. No one knew if we would be here just three months ago, but now the Seahawks have a chance to write a final chapter to a volleyball season for the ages.
“Oh man, it would mean everything to come home with that ring,” said Simons. “I’ve been with the program longer than anyone on this team. I started on the JV team in seventh grade and played varsity for all four years. This has been my family and my culture. It would mean everything to come home with the state championship and I know we’ve worked hard enough for it. If we can overcome those lost points like we’ve proven we can do, we’re going to be successful. It’s our turn. It’s our time to show up and show out on Thursday night and hopefully come home with the win.”
Written by Wes Kerr / Photos by Mary Beth Lyons
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