Finally, the volleyball powerhouse by the sea has its state championship.
Myrtle Beach validated itself as one of the elites on Saturday, downing Pickens 3-1 (25-13, 19-25, 25-16, 25-18) to win the Class 4A state volleyball championship. It is the Seahawks’ first title in the sport.
“I was much more emotional than I thought it was going to be,” said Myrtle Beach volleyball coach Larry Church. “Eighteen years ago when I had two kids come out for the volleyball team, I never imagined this would be the product of all that time on the bus and hard work.
“I’ve got former families and players (at the state title game) and everything else … it just feels amazing.”
Myrtle Beach (23-7-1) took the first set with ease, led by outside hitter Gracie Davis. In the stanza, she had 10 kills.
In the second, Pickens (22-3) stemmed the tide a bit, using its size to neutralize the Seahawks’ ability on the outside.
“In the second set we started to play a little conservative,” Davis said. “We knew their block was big, so instead of attacking the block we tried to go around the block instead of utilize the block. It was killing us … they were blocking us and blocking us and blocking us. And we kept getting error after error after error.”
Myrtle Beach permanently seized momentum in the third, riding Davis and Cassie Runyon, who were both selected to the Class 4A all-state squad. The pair combined for 12 kills in the frame.
“We’ve been so close to winning a state championship the past couple of years,” she said. “And I think we all wanted it really bad. Especially this game, we were all really ready to play.
“I knew every ball I touched it could be my last, so I tried to make it the best I could.”
As they’d done a much of the match, Runyon and Davis carried the Seahawks to the finish line. In fact, during a stretch the duo scored five out of six points in a crucial juncture – Runyon with a kill and two aces, while Davis had a block and a kill.
“You can’t win without some horses that can run,” Church said. “We’ve been using them as our go-to all season and they proved tonight why. When they get going, they’re pretty much unstoppable.”
Following the game’s final point, Myrtle Beach players sprinted onto the court for a post game huddle, index fingers high to state they’re “No. 1.”
For the Myrtle Beach head man, sleep may be tough to come by tonight.
“I’m going to ride home and check the hundreds of text messages I have,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight, I’ll be up thinking … it’s funny I’m already thinking about next year.
“I’ll enjoy it, but I’m already thinking about next year.”