The St. James Sharks volleyball team arrived Tuesday afternoon prepared and poised. Ready.
They were looking for a win, nothing more.
But now, after a four-game (25-8, 25-0, 18-25, 25-21) victory over Myrtle Beach, the Sharks are setting the bar higher as a showdown looms with North Myrtle Beach, which is also 3-0 in Region VIII-AAA.
The Chiefs aren’t the only unbeaten team in the region.
“Our next game is versus North Myrtle Beach and they’re a powerhouse so this is our warm-up to get ready for them,” St. James coach Lindsay Mayer said.
The Chiefs are considered by many the favorite in the region in large part to standout outside hitter Taylor Allman. While Allman serves as the main cog for North Myrtle Beach, the Sharks are powered by senior setter Alexis Gunnell, who has come out of nowhere to be the driving force behind a well-balanced roster.
Gunnell has stepped up to the task of taking over a new position and proved an asset for the Sharks.
Gunnell set the table for St. James on Thursday. Senior Hayley Settle had 20 service points and eight kills, and the Sharks got eight service points apiece from Katie Cook and Courtney Settle, who also had six kills.
“(Gunnell) has never set before in her whole life and I threw her on the court one day setting and she dominated,” Mayer said.
While Thursday’s match is still an early one, the winner will get an early head start toward winning the region, which Myrtle Beach won a season ago with a loaded roster.
The Seahawks lost their top player, Meagan Milligan, who transferred back to Florida, and other who graduated.
That left an opportunity for the Chiefs and Sharks, who were the second and third seeds out of the region, respectively, last season.
However, Mayer and Co. aren’t doing anything differently in preparation for Thursday’s key match.
“It’s the basics that make your team win so if you keep it simple, that’s what we try to do,” Mayer said.
Nonetheless, the Sharks’ goal is simple.
“We always want to go No. 1,” Mayer said.
Contact JOSH BELL at 626-0385.