MYRTLE BEACH — As the rain came down over Myrtle Beach on Tuesday night, a storm brewed indoors between the region rival Myrtle Beach Seahawks and the Socastee Braves.
The Seahawks beat the Braves in four games, winning 3-1 (26-24, 25-21, 16-25, 25-19).
“We played well,” Myrtle Beach coach Larry Church said.
Nikki Uzzel had 10 kills and eight blocks, Maggie Slabinski had nine kills, and Ally Bills had 25 assists for the Seahawks.
“Our setter (Bills) did a great job for us tonight, she put the ball in a great location all night, we blocked the ball a lot; Nicky Uzzel, senior middle played really well – I think she had seven blocks tonight, so that changes a game,” Church said. “When you’ve got the ball in the right place and you got kids that, it’s changing their mind about what they’re doing on the other side, it helps tremendously.”
The Braves – and coach Jessica Holloway, fighting an illness – battled, though, making it a typical hard-fought Region VII-AAA contest.
“It’s not even region games, it’s just when local kids that are playing against each other, they have mutual friends, they know each other outside of school, so the intensity level automatically increases,” Church said. “A team like Socastee, these girls, they all play travel ball together, all the parents know each other, so yeah it definitely brings an air of intensity to the gym.”
As Myrtle Beach conducted a sendoff for their four departing seniors (Shelby Sheets, Marianna Painter, Nikki Uzzel, Ashley Kahn), Church alluded to the key to his team’s success.
“When you’re a young team like we are – I mean yes we have a couple seniors that play – but we have a seventh-grader, a couple of ninth-graders that play a lot for us, the things that are going right are we’re just starting to relax a little bit,” Church said. “We understand our roles a little bit better as compared to the beginning of the season. It’s just a fun time of the year. Now it’s starting to mean something.
“Tonight was a big match as far as, ‘who’s going to get that second place position’. North Myrtle Beach hasn’t locked it up completely, but it’s almost a foregone conclusion they’ll be No. 1, but St. James, Socastee and ourselves are fighting for that No. 2 spot to host the first round of the playoffs.”
There’s still plenty of jockeying to go, though.
“We’re still working,” Church said. “We’re definitely heading in the right direction. I thought we could come in this year with a young team and compete for one of those top positions in the region, and we’re right there,” Church said. “Where we end up will definitely be a determining factor of whether we met that goal or not.”
Contact JOSH BELL at 444-1702.