Alex Sing wanted to see where his North Myrtle Beach volleyball team measured up against a perennial power.
It appears he got his answer on Tuesday night. Certainly, the Chiefs are close … but not there just yet.
Its back to the wall, Myrtle Beach found the wherewithal to come back from a 2-1 deficit against its rival from Little River, taking North Myrtle Beach to the limit and inevitably claiming a 3-2 victory (25-14, 23-25, 21-25, 25-15, 15-10).
“(North Myrtle Beach) are some competitors, good athletes, good all-around players,” said Myrtle Beach volleyball coach Larry Church. “We know every single time we step on the court, they’re going to be gunning for us. Fortunately, we did enough to leave with a win.”
Following an opening set in which the Seahawks were barely challenged, the expectation by most in the North Myrtle Beach gym was this would be a rout for the visitors, something that has become rather routine as of late.
The Chiefs had plenty fight, though.
Feeding off the momentum of the home crowd, North Myrtle Beach steadily seized control of the match. Myrtle Beach also did its part to help, committing a bevy of unforced errors, allowing the Chiefs to claim a pair of close games.
“In those middle two sets, we committed 25 unforced errors. Basically, you’re handing a set to the opponent,” Church said. “Playing a team like North Myrtle Beach, you can’t do that. That first set was an anomaly, it was one of those things where we played well and they didn’t. But in those middle sets, they simply played better than us.”
Also looming large for the Chiefs was blockers Sydney Bellamy, Maddie Roy and Kaydee Runion, whose mere presence made Myrtle Beach change its kills attempts — and, particularly in the middle portion of the match, send them back in the direction of their sender.
“They didn’t get fooled tonight,” Church said.
But in the latter two games, that began to change for the Seahawks, working away from the North Myrtle Beach "wall." Gracie Davis and Darby Sheets were the chief beneficiaries, finally able to put in effective work around the net.
“We kept them in check a bit, but we’re young,” said North Myrtle Beach volleyball coach Alex Sing. “We made a few mental mistakes a crucial moments, but they made a few as well and that was why this turned into such a good match.”
In the fifth and deciding game, the teams spent much of it stuck like glue. But a controversial point early on that seemed to give the Chiefs a three-point lead instead was deemed a do-over, giving Myrtle Beach another opportunity to play the point.
A service error allowed the Seahawks to steal the point, and momentum flowed the other bench to stay. As she had done in the previous game, the match was punctuated by Davis, emphatically spiking the ball in between a pair of North Myrtle Beach players for the win.
With the victory, Myrtle Beach improves to 23-1-1 on the year. More importantly, the win provides a one-game buffer between it and its chief competition in Region VII-4A.
“Obviously, you don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but the No. 1 seed in our region is going to be in the top half and have an opportunity to host the Lower State championship,” Church said. “Used to be you didn’t think of those things when playing volleyball in this area. But now, its become a factor.”
Cassie Runyon led the way for the Seahawks with 18 kills and five digs, while Danni Hix had 49 assists. Davis also had 17 service points, 18 kills and three aces.
North Myrtle Beach was led by Roy with 15 kills and Maggie Hash with 11. Reagan Matney had 45 assists on the night.
Sing said he and his players will lament lost opportunities, but not sulk over the result. Instead, he believes the Chiefs are rounding into form, becoming a team that can compete night in and night out.
“We’re close, a point here or there and maybe the match goes a different way,” he said. “We play them again in a few weeks, and maybe we’re a tad better than we were tonight.”