Few expected the North Myrtle Beach volleyball team to have anywhere near the type of success it did last season.
Despite winning the 2012 state title, a new crop of seniors and a first-year head coach were basically not part of the conversation for those contending this fall.
Marci Chestnut made sure people knew this Chiefs team was not an afterthought. The talented senior and Toast of the Coast Volleyball Player of the Year pushed North Myrtle Beach back to the Class AAA championship game.
It was motivation. Taylor [Allman] and Moriah [Jones] and the seniors we graduated last year were powerhouses, Chestnut said. It motivated our team and myself to up our game even more. We had to fill some pretty big shoes.
North Myrtle Beach accomplished plenty. The Chiefs ultimately lost in the Class AAA state title match to Pickens. However, Erica Allmans team finished 10-0 in Region VII-AAA play and 21-3 overall. The three losses were to Pickens, Class AAAA runner-up Wando and Bishop England, which has won 14 straight Class AA titles.
During the season, the big-hitting Chestnut averaged 14 kills and two blocks per match. She was named to the North-South All-Star Volleyball team, the Class AAA All-State squad and the Region VII-AAA Player of the Year.
She made a huge name for herself with her power, Allman said. You could always expect her to want to kill the ball every time she got it. There were so many games where she was off the court and she was begging to get back on. That was a huge reason we won.
Chestnut may have also been one of the biggest beneficiaries of a brutal summer schedule that included two-a-day practices that focused on conditioning and weight training. Allman believed that would be crucial to another deep playoff run.
I dont think many of the girls liked me coming in, Allman said. We ran and worked out a lot without even touching the court. But Marci, from the get-go, was on board with that. She was set on making it back to the state championship.
Following all the conditioning work, Allman and Chestnut went to work on polishing the seniors game. Having played as a junior and also being a starter for the basketball team the athletic ability was already there.
At times, though, footwork and technique were still raw, as Allman described it. In a short period of time, Chestnuts abilities soared. She led the team in kills per match, eclipsing 300 total kills for the season, and was second in hitting percentage from her middle hitter position.
Between her time with the Chiefs and the Grand Strand Juniors club team, Chestnut has now created a name for herself as a legitimate college prospect.
In the process, she also helped solidify North Myrtle Beachs spot near the top of the states volleyball scene.
We had a bunch of doubts, Chestnut said. We really beat the odds. Its sad, but a bunch of people in our community and other teams in our region doubted us. They thought the seniors on last years team were basically our team. What they didnt realize is that the ones sitting on the bench worked twice as hard over the summer. They blossomed from last year.
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