The streak is over. Porter-Gaud’s eight-year run as the SCISA Class AAA volleyball champion was ended on Tuesday night as crosstown rival Ashley Hall posted a three-game sweep at 26-24, 25-23, 25-18.
Ashley Hall coach Franny Slay won her 12th state championship but her first since 2009. Her Panthers squad had lost in the state finals in seven of Porter-Gaud’s eight years of championships. Ashley Hall won three of the five in-season matchups with Porter-Gaud.
“This means so much because we’ve been in it so many times and we were never able to close the deal,” said Slay, who has more than 750 career wins at Ashley Hall. “Tonight we did. I am so proud of this team. This is very rewarding because this team deserved a championship.”
It appeared early that Porter-Gaud was poised for a ninth title as they opened a 17-11 lead in the first game. Ashley Hall rallied to tie the score at 17 and the teams battled through five more ties before the Panthers were able to close out with two points to claim the set.
Game 2 was as competitive as any game could have been. Neither team was able to pull away, and again the score was tied at 17. Ashley Hall senior Mattison Matthews, who will play at Virginia next season, closed out the game with a kill and a block for a 2-0 lead. Matthews finished the night with 23 kills and eight blocks.
Ashley Hall used the momentum to open an early advantage in Game 3, taking a 13-6 lead. Porter-Gaud showed championship mettle and fought to within 15-12, but the Panthers answered with a 5-1 run to take a 20-13 lead.
“Every time we have played them it has been point for point,” Slay said. “Fortunately for us, we were able to get a little bit of a lead in the last game. We have been a team all year that has started a little slow. The thing about this team, though, is we have great leaders and we fight hard.”
Matthews said she and her teammates were determined not to let another championship opportunity slip away.
“We were so focused all year but really brought it tonight,” she said. “It feels great to beat Porter-Gaud for the championship, but really it didn’t matter who was on the other side of the net. We just wanted to win this championship.”
Aiding Matthews in the winning effort were fellow seniors Cameron Cox (nine kills) Hampden Thomas (13 kills), Sarah Smith (21 digs) and Sarah Olivia Wyndham. Sophomore setter Laughlin Murray finished with 49 assists.
“It was such a competitive match and both teams really played hard,” Porter-Gaud coach Megan Crouch said. “I’m disappointed because we always want to win, but I am really happy for Franny and her team. They played better tonight. We’ll be back next year, but this year belongs to Ashley Hall.”
Freshman middle Marianna Singletary paced Porter-Gaud with 11 kills and three blocks. Junior Elise Pearson and senior Victoria Mabe each tallied eight kills, with Pearson adding four blocks.
The Lowcountry dominated play at the Class AAA state girls golf tournament, which was completed on Tuesday at the Carolina Springs Country Club in Greenville.
Oceanside Collegiate won its second consecutive Class AAA state championship, posting a two-day team total of 630, while Bishop England finished as the state runner-up with a team score of 688.
Oceanside Collegiate led with a score of 307 after round one and followed with a 323 team score over the final 18 holes on Tuesday.
Rachel Rich and Kayla Bartemeyer paced Oceanside Collegiate, tying for sixth-place individually at 152. Each earned all-state honors, along with Gabriela Martinez, who finished in 10th-place at 154.
Bishop England’s Kennedy Carroll earned all-state recognition as well, shooting 153 for a ninth-place finish individually.
Fort Dorchester finished sixth in the Class AAAAA state tournament, which was won by Lexington for the 13th consecutive year. Fort Dorchester finished with a two-day total 713, 101 shots behind Lexington. Leading the Patriots was Cecelia Knecht, who tied for 11th-place with a 36-hole total 158.
Wando finished 10th in the AAAAA tournament, posting a final tally of 727. Stratford finished in 16th-place.
Olivia Erwin of James Island competed in the AAAAA tournament as an individual and finished in a tie for 21st place with a 166.