The Bishop England volleyball team can tie a national record today with a victory over Gilbert in the Class AA state championship match.
The Bishops are gunning for their 22nd state title, which would tie Burris High School of Muncie, Ind., for most state volleyball titles by a high school team in the country.
The Bishops are also aiming for their 12th straight title, which would be fifth on the all-time list for consecutive championships.
The Class AA match is set for 1:30 p.m. at White Knoll High School.
The High School League sanctioned the sport in 1969 and the Bishops won their first title in 1977 under the direction of Kathy Blackman. She led the team to five titles.
Coach Amelia Dawley followed her and led the Bishops to 12 titles. Cindy Baggott has continued the tradition and has guided the Bishops to four titles.
"It would be a great accomplishment if we win another title," Baggott said. "This would be my fifth. You have to give credit to Kathy Blackman. She started the program. In fact, I was part of the '81 state championship team my senior year. So I've experienced that."
While 22 titles would tie the national record, Baggott is just as impressed with 11 state championships in a row and said 12 straight would be quite an accomplishment.
"These kids, I think they think more about the streak because they don't want to be the first team to lose it," Baggott said. "I really didn't tell them about the national record until Wednesday. But I do try to downplay it because I don't want to put the pressure on them. I think the streak alone is enough pressure. If it happens, and we do take the national record, then we'll celebrate."
Ellie James is the latest in a long line of all-state players for the Bishops. She had a big effort with 11 kills in the Lower State championship against Waccamaw on Thursday.
"Playing for this school is so amazing because of all the awards that we have," James said. "And knowing we have a chance at the record, we don't let it get to our heads. We try not to think about it, but winning so much, knowing that we have that record there, just makes it so much better."