The machine that is Bishop England High School volleyball was clicking on all cylinders in Wednesday’s AA Lower State finals against Waccamaw.
Using a balanced attack of power at the net and trademark defense, Bishop England advanced to the Class AA state championship for the 14th consecutive year. The Lady Bishops defeated the visiting Warriors in three games, 25-11, 25-9, 25-13.
Bishop England will seek a 14th consecutive state title on Saturday against the Upper State champion.
“Our main challenge tonight, with the big crowd and all the noise, was to stay focused and execute,” said coach Cindy Baggott. “It would have been easy to be distracted in here tonight, but I thought we were very focused. We played pretty well. We really didn’t have a lull in intensity or focus tonight.”
Senior Mary Harriet Moore led a very balanced attack with 11 kills. Sophomore Ashley Brazell had eight kills, and sophomore Montana Swanson and senior Catherine McAlister were key along the net as well. Bishop England enjoyed a significant advantage in size along the front.
Senior setter Sawyer Swanson finished with 34 assists.
Bishop England was never seriously threatened, opening up a 10-3 lead in the first game as Waccamaw appeared rattled early.
Game two was tied at five as Waccamaw settled in, but the Bishops’ strength at the net took over. Leading 8-7, Bishop England went on to win 17 of the next 19 points in cruising to an easy win.
Bishop England won six of the first seven points in game three. Waccamaw closed the lead to 9-6, but the Bishops responded with a pair of 4-0 runs and led 18-9 on Moore’s final kill of the night.
“We did have a size advantage, and our depth with our size tends to create some advantages for us,” said Baggott. “I credit my passers. It all starts with the passing and defense. If we are doing well in those areas, we tend to be successful.
“We have to take advantage of our size, but they make mistakes too. Having size is good, but they still have to execute. I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting our unforced errors and finishing plays.”
Now that they have reached the finals, Baggott says her team has to play their best volleyball of the season.
“We seem to be peaking at the right time, but it all has to come together on Saturday,” said the coach. “It’s exciting. The girls are excited about the opportunity. We have to stay focused, and hopefully we have been in enough big matches this season that nerves won’t be a big problem.”