Cummings continued the success

Katie Cummings

You've seen the T-shirt: Tradition never graduates.

That's true when it comes to the Bishop England High School volleyball team.

Earlier this month, the Bishops' dynasty expanded again with a victory over Gilbert to give the Bishops their 10th straight state title.

But coach Cindy Baggott will tell you each team has its own personality, its own cast of characters. Tradition never graduates, but players do.

Senior setter Katie Cummings had a big role in the victory over Gilbert in the title match with 33 assists. She's played the final game of her career and will graduate in May. She's the latest in a long line of standout players for the Bishops.

She played on four state championship teams and was named all-state three years.

She saved her best for last this fall. She was named the Class AA state player of the year by the Coaches Association of Women's Sports (CAWS), and adds another honor as The Post and Courier player of the year for 2009.

"I was fortunate to have a great career," Cummings said. "I played on four state championship teams and that's hard to top. I had wonderful teammates and excellent coaches; coach (Amelia) Dawley when I was a freshman and coach Baggott the last three years. I couldn't have dreamed of anything better than that."

Cummings heads up an extremely talented All-Lowcountry team. Joining Cummings on the first team is teammate Mary Crawford James, Ashley Hall standouts Catey Warren and Litsa Darby, Elizabeth Miler of Summerville and Catherine Peeples of Wando.

Cummings has played in many high-profile contests, but the biggest matches in her opinion weren't the state championships. Instead, she says the matches she will remember the most were against Ashley Hall, which has ruled SCISA with 10 state championships in 12 years after defeating Porter-Gaud in the Class AAA state title match this season.

"One of our biggest wins had to be my junior year when we beat Ashley Hall at their place," Cummings said. "Another thing I'll remember was my sophomore year after five players graduated, including Cole Dawley. We weren't supposed to win anything, but we did."

Cummings said James was a great teammate, and the two players communicated well.

"She always knew what I was thinking on the court and anticipated my moves, and I knew what she was thinking and going to do," Cummings said. "We had that chemistry. The team had that chemistry."

Cummings also had praise for Ashley Hall's dynamic duo of Warren and Darby. Warren is a junior and Darby is only a sophomore.

"They're great opponents," Cummings said. "We're friends off the court. Catey and Litsa are such smart players. Litsa is very talented for her age."

Miler and Peeples round out the team. Both players come from athletic families.

Peeples' mother, Lisa, was a basketball standout for the College of Charleston and is in the school's athletic hall of fame.

Miler's sister, Adriane, was all-state in three sports at Pinewood Prep and was The Post and Courier's female athlete of the year in 2004. Another sister, Caroline, was all-state for two years in swimming and volleyball at Pinewood Prep.

Porter-Gaud's Ashley Heidtke is the coach of the year.

She led the Cyclones to the Class AAA state championship match against Ashley Hall. It marked the third time in five years that Heidtke led the Cyclones to the championship match.

The Cyclones won a state title in 2006.

Heidtke played at the University of South Carolina from 1995-98 and then served as a graduate assistant for two years. She coached at the College of Charleston for one year before taking the Porter-Gaud job.

Reach Philip M. Bowman at pbowman@postandcourier.com or at 937-5592.