AIKEN — Wando’s bid for a berth in the Class AAAA state volleyball championship came up short despite a valiant effort. Aiken claimed a 3-2 victory over the Warriors to reach Saturday’s state championship.
Aiken scored a 23-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13 victory that ended the Warriors’ season. Aiken will play the winner of the Rock Hill-Hillcrest game.
Wando was seeking it fifth state title. The Warriors (46-8) won three titles in a row from 1976-78 when the Warriors won a state-record 77 matches. The Warriors’ other title came in 1993 when they topped Pickens in the final.
Aiken will make its third straight trip to the state final, but Warriors were unfazed by Aiken’s history, its all-state players or the raucous crowd.
“It could’ve gone either way,” said Wando head coach Alexis Glover. “These were two very good teams and I’m proud of the way my kids played.”
Glover had every right to be, her players displayed tremendous court coverage to keep rallies alive as well as tremendous recovery skills to quickly make the transition from defense to offense and keep Aiken on its heels. Wando players hit accurate shots deep on Aiken’s end of the floor, exposing weaknesses in the back line of defense.
Grace Wachowski led Wando with 12 kills, Natalie Tucker had 33 assists, Alex Seirko contributed 16 digs and Mackenzie Lesermann added 10 blocks for the Warriors.
The constant pressure it applied also kept the Hornets from sustaining any rhythm of its own, as too many of their hits were of a desperate nature. Conversely, the Warriors always seemed to find a way to get a healthy dig–set–kill rhythm on most possessions.
“This one means all the world because we get to go back,” said Aiken head coach Malynda Young, who was so thrilled with the win, she was on the verge of tears, as were many of her players after the grueling win that tested their championship mettle. “I’m just so excited that I get to take this group of girls.”
The Hornets were expected to be good again this year, but there were questions about the team because it lost so many players to graduation following last year, players who were instrumental in the back-to-back state title game appearances.