PAWLEYS ISLAND — Melaina Moore and her Waccamaw volleyball teammates had already been laying the groundwork.
If the path of the last five years – the Warriors being forced to play 12-time defending state champion Bishop England in the playoffs again – took place, Waccamaw was going to need all the help it could get.
Unlike most years, when Bishop England has held either the advantage via region finish or simple bracket lay-out, the game Thursday will take place in Pawleys Island. And Moore is hoping their gentle nudges help turn the tide.
“We asked the teachers to give credit for their grades and free pizza,” she said.
It all would have been for naught had Monday turned out a little differently. The Warriors needed all five games to beat Region VIII-AA foe Aynor in the Class AA Lower State semifinals.
Moore, a senior, led the way with 14 kills and sophomore teammate Mags Grafe had a team-high seven aces. But the Blue Jackets made sure this one was going to be no walk in the park for the Warriors.
For the second time in three meetings between the teams this year, Waccamaw needed all five games. The Warriors won the first 25-21, the third 26-24 and the fifth 15-8. Aynor took the second game 26-24 and the fourth 25-22.
Needless to say the Blue Jackets – who finish the season 15-4 – certainly did what they could to prevent another Waccamaw-Bishop England postseason meeting.
“If we can pay attention to some of the things we can work on and get some aces, we’ll be all right,” Warriors coach Jill Schoen said. “We were making a lot of errors – unforced errors. It was our errors, and that’s how they were getting some points. It will give us an idea over the next two days where we need to work and what we need to do.”
Waccamaw will certainly need to work out those kinks in a hurry.
Bishop England has won every Class AA state title since 2000 and has 22 overall state titles. The latter figure is nine better than the next volleyball team in state history.
This year, the Bishops have for the most part been rolling again. Behind a game schedule that most high school coaches in this state wouldn’t put in front of their team, Bishop England is 39-9-1. Seven of those losses have come to either Class AAAA teams or opponents from out of state.
Meanwhile, Waccamaw improved to 20-5 this season with the win over Aynor.
It wasn’t easy, but it was one that both Schoen and her players said they needed in order to further prepare for Thursday.
“We were ready for it and prepared,” Moore said. “Usually we play better against harder teams. When they push us, it makes us better.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.