Ashley Hall volleyball coach Franny Slay has coached a lot of great players while winning more than 750 games and 12 state championships. Senior Mattison Matthews ranks as one of her all-time greats.
Matthews, a five-year performer at Ashley Hall, is The Post and Courier’s 2018 All-Lowcountry player of the year after taking the Panthers to the SCISA Class AAA state championship this season.
The 5-11 Matthews was among the state leaders in kills with 648, adding 145 blocks. She had 23 kills in the state championship win over rival Porter-Gaud and finished her career with 1,792 kills and 556 total blocks.
But Slay, the 2018 Lowcountry coach of the year, says Matthews is a lot more than a fantastic athlete and great player.
“She is obviously an amazing athlete and a talented player,” Slay said. “But she is also an amazing person, a wonderful young lady. The respect she has among her teammates and her teachers and administrators is so strong. Her character, her leadership, her commitment to academics, she’s the total package. It has never been about her. She always has put the team first and she was our leader. She’s a competitor and she loves to win.”
Slay remembers Matthews catching her eye as an eighth-grader. The veteran coach with a keen eye for talent was overwhelmed by Matthews’ ability to move and jump.
“We knew in the eighth-grader that she had the potential to become what she eventually did,” the coach said. “She was so coordinated and athletic, not your typical eighth-grader. She continued to grow and develop each year. She also had a tremendous desire to succeed and she worked so hard. She was all business.”
Matthews got her first taste of volleyball watching her older sisters, Patrice and Meredith, play the game at Pinewood Prep.
“Part of my love for volleyball came from being able to go around with them and watch them play,” she said. “I really didn’t know what I was watching but I saw how much they enjoyed it and I wanted to be like them.”
Once she arrived at Ashley Hall, Matthews quickly began to hone in on becoming great. She toyed with track and field as a freshman, winning a state championship with that team, but knew volleyball would be her ticket to college.
“Coming here changed my life and I know I would not be the player I am had I not come here and played for coach Slay,” she said. “She saw my potential and I just fell in love with the game. This school and this program really was the best thing for me.”
Matthews, a finalist for S.C. Gatorade player of the year, signed in November to play volleyball at the University of Virginia, joining another Lowcountry star, Maddie Boylston of Wando. Matthews is ready to begin phase two of her academic and volleyball journey.
“I am ready to see what the next chapter holds,” she said. “I am so glad my high school career ended with the cherry on top and now I am excited to see what’s next at UVA. We have a great class coming in and we share the same goals. I’ll be getting a great education and I get to play the game I love for a few more years.”
ALL-LOWCOUNTRY VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Senior, Ashley Hall
Senior, Bishop England
Abbey Schad, Wando, Sr.; Chelsea Blume, Summerville, Sr.; Madeline White, Bishop England, Sr.; Amani McArthur, Ashley Ridge, Sr.; Olivia Yarborough, Oceanside Collegiate, Jr.; Laughlin Murray, Ashley Hall, Soph..
Sophie Meredith, Oceanside Collegiate; Elise Pearson, Porter-Gaud; Hampden Thomas, Ashley Hall; Jessica Tillman, James Island; Cameron Cox, Ashley Hall; Alexis Schueller, James Island; Taylor Hills, Oceanside Collegiate; Victoria Mabe, Porter-Gaud; Vanessa Blake, Ashley Ridge; Amanda Blake, Ashley Ridge.
Haley Jenness, Wando; Anushka Fernandes, Porter-Gaud; Kelly Lisi, Ashley Ridge; Anna McClure, James Island; Emma Etheridge, Philip Simmons; Mary Grace Sirisky, West Ashley; Breyon Forrest, Military Magnet; Ali Clare Jahn, Wando; Jadon Nelson, Stratford; Kailynn Driggers, Stratford.