Bishop England rolls into state finals

The Bishop England volleyball team took a business trip to Dillon on Tuesday evening and in an hour captured a 16th consecutive AA Lower State championship.

The Bishops easily dispatched of Region 8-AA champion Dillon in three straight games, winning 25-10, 25-11, 25-14, to advance to Saturday’s state championship match at White Knoll High School.

Bishop England has won the last 15 state AA titles and has won a national record 25 titles in volleyball.

There was no celebration after the final point was won, nor during the entire match. That’s the way this year’s team operates, according to coach Cindy Baggott.

“That’s the personality of this team, pretty much all business,” Baggott said. “I have no idea what it takes to fire them up. They’re not flashy. They just so business-like. I guess it works for them. It has so far.”

Senior all-stater Montana Swanson paced Bishop England with 12 kills, while fellow senior all-stater Ashley Brazell added nine kills, along with junior Mary Grace Furmanchik.

Senior setter Victoria Boals dished out 19 assists and junior Rhetta Moore added eight.

Bishop England trailed only once in the entire match, falling behind 1-0 at the start of the third game. That third game was the most competitive of the match as Dillon stayed close at 16-12. Bishop England responded at that point, winning nine of next 11 points.

“I thought Dillon played well there in the third and we sort of lost our way in terms of ball control,” Baggott said. “We knew coming in here they were pretty athletic. They played hard.

“I wasn’t confident coming in here today. I’m never confident because you just don’t know what to expect. I’m happy to win, but we have to play better Saturday.”

Brazell and Swanson combined for eight kills in the opener as the Bishops built a commanding 12-3 lead and cruised to the easy win.

A quick start in game two resulted in a 17-3 count and Dillon only managed to get as close as 12 the rest of the way.

Bishop England will play the winner of the Upper State finals between Landrum and Buford at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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