Wando two wins away from elusive state title

Wando's Elisa Aldrich, left, Mackenzie Lesemann and Natalie Tucker celebrate a point against Lexington Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant. Paul Zoeller/Special to the Post and Courier

MOUNT PLEASANT — The Wando volleyball team has a legitimate claim to being the best team in the Lowcountry with victories over Bishop England and Porter-Gaud during the regular season.

Now, the Warriors are thinking about a bigger geographic supremacy as the playoffs culminate. They are two victories away from the Class AAAA state championship after defeating Lexington 25-16, 25-20, 25-21 Tuesday night to advance to the Class AAAA Lower State championship.

The Warriors (46-7) will play the winner of the Aiken-White Knoll match on Thursday with a berth in Saturday’s state championship on the line.

“I think we’re the best team in the Lowcountry,” said Wando coach Alexis Glover, whose team was 2-0 against Class AA defending state champ Bishop England and 1-1 against SCISA state champion Porter-Gaud. “The way I see it, we were the local team that advanced the farthest in the WIT (Wando Invitational Tournament), and that’s a good measuring stick.”

Britney Vallez tallied 13 kills for the Warriors, while Elisa Aldridge had five solo blocks. Natalie Tucker handed out 37 assists, while Daley Gosnell and Mackenzie Lessemann both had seven kills. Alex Serirko tallied 14 digs.

“We’re a blue-collar team,” Glover said. “There are no superstars, just a lot of kids who have a lot of heart. They work hard. They work like dogs.”

It marked the first time in four years that the Warriors won in the Lower State semifinal. They lost to Aiken once and to White Knoll two times.

“I told the girls we had to break that cycle,” Glover said. “We have seven seniors who have been playing since the seventh grade, and I think they bring a calmness. They are confident in each other.”

Lexington coach Kerri Carnes was impressed with the Warriors’ play.

“We’ve met them before in the playoffs,” she said. “This was a tough environment, and they have skill all around. We made some errors, and you’re not going to beat a team like this when you don’t play your best.”

Glover called her team’s effort complete.

“We played well but know there’s work to be done,” she said.

Wando has won four state titles, including three in a row from 1976-78 when the Warriors won a state-record 77 matches in a row. The Warriors’ other title came in 1993 when they topped Pickens in the final. The Warriors have made five other trips to the championship under Glover, but couldn’t claim the title.

Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil