Toast of the Coast

Myrtle Beach’s Davis comes of age, leads team to run at state title

Myrtle Beach outside hitter Gracie Davis sends a ball back over the net during a game last season.
Myrtle Beach outside hitter Gracie Davis sends a ball back over the net during a game last season. jlee@thesunnews

Contrary to popular belief, time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds.

Such particularly holds true in athletics, where the pain of one season’s end fuels the pursuit of a championship in the next.

For Gracie Davis and the Myrtle Beach volleyball team, however, several years of frustration had welled up in their bodies. Despite having one of the more successful programs in the Lower State, there was little to show the Seahawks’ recent run of dominance was truly “elite.”

Taking the notion to heart, Davis set out to add a little ink to the history book during the 2016 volleyball season.

Driven by the scars of past playoff exits, the sophomore standout averaged greater than 10 kills per game this past season. More importantly, she brought her best in Myrtle Beach’s biggest games.

Few were bigger than an election-night tilt with Lugoff-Elgin, with the Lower State title hanging in the balance. Playing with a purpose, the Seahawks outside hitter had 17 kills, becoming a one-person wrecking crew of sorts, helping the team finally get over the hump — and into a state title match.

“We worked hard all year and it’s good to see everything pay off,” Davis said following the Lower State final. “... These last few years we made it to the third round and made it to Lower States, and last year in particular we lost in Lower States. This year, it was our time to make it to states. It just feels good.”

While Myrtle Beach fell short of its ultimate goal, the season further stamped Davis as one of the state’s top players as she earned Region VII-4A Player of the Year honors and all-state recognition. Her reputation on the Grand Strand will also continue to get a boost, however, as the Seahawks volleyball standout was named The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast volleyball Player of the Year.

According to Myrtle Beach volleyball coach Larry Church, Davis first emerged on his radar as a sixth-grader, serving as a scorekeeper. The following year, she would join the Seahawks program, where she has been a mainstay ever since.

“Gracie has been in our program since the seventh grade,” he said. “… I’ve really watched her grow and learn how to compete at a high level.”

More work is yet to be done for the Seahawks, though, as a state title is the only thing left for the volleyball program to accomplish. The same goes for Davis, whose final two years are chock full of promise.

“It is exciting because I have her for the next two years,” Church said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the heights to which she will go.”

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @thejournalist44

Editor’s note

This is the seventh installment in a nine-day series honoring the top athletes from the fall high school sports season. Friday: Football Defensive Player of the Year.

Toast of the Coast volleyball

Player of the Year

Gracie Davis

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Sophomore

Notable: Was named to the All-State 4A team, along with earning Region VII-4A Player of the Year honors this past season. Averaged greater than 10 kills per game and lead the Seahawks to a Lower State championship.

Kenzlie Andresen

School: Carolina Forest

Class: Senior

Notable: Voted Region VI-5A Player of the Year by coaches in the league. Finished season with 214 kills and 88 blocks.

Alexis Tomlin

School: Carolina Forest

Class: Junior

Notable: Earned All-State 5A honors this past season. Had 281 kills, 50 aces, 58 blocks and 244 digs.

Reagan Bass

School: Waccamaw

Class: Senior

Notable: Selected as an All-State 3A performer, in addition to being a North-South all-star. Co-captain of a Warriors squad that earned a Region VI-3A title, the setter notched 65 aces and 10 kills this past season.

Berkley Causey

School: Aynor

Class: Junior

Notable: The Blue Jacket setter had 195 assists this past season, along 49 kills — nine of which came via blocks at the net. She also had 48 digs.

Mykah Frazier

School: Conway

Class: Senior

Notable: Earned All-State 5A honors, leading the Tigers to a second-place finish in Region VI-5A and a playoff win.

Sarah Krask

School: Waccamaw

Class: Senior

Notable: The Warriors senior co-captain was named a North-South all-star, playing a key role in her team earning the Region VI-3A title. Had 13 aces and 73 kills this past season.

Maddie Roy

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Junior

Notable: Averaged 21 assists per match, in addition to notching a .344 hitting average. She also had 81 services aces this past season.

Cassie Runyon

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Junior

Notable: The Seahawks middle hitter earned All-State 4A and Region VII-4A honors, helping the Seahawks to a berth in a state title game.

Eriel Weston

School: Carvers Bay

Class: Junior

Notable: Had 181 kills and 51 digs this past season, leading the Bears to a deep playoff run. She also had 70 aces and 108 good serve receives.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Larry Church

School: Myrtle Beach

Notable: Led the Seahawks to a 34-2-1 record, along with the program’s first Lower State title since 2011.

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