High school volleyball teams from the Charleston area claimed two state championships last season and had a total of six teams playing in state finals.
If there is to be a repeat of that success, several of the area’s top contenders will be doing so with much younger rosters this year.
At Wando, a perennial state title contender, veteran head coach Alexis Glover has a handful of experienced performers back but will be relying heavily on underclassmen.
We are very young in all spots but outside hitter and Libero,” said Glover, who has more than 1,000 career victories as coach at Wando. “We are improving everyday but we make freshman mistakes. Hopefully we will put it all together to have a chance to make a run for the state again.”
Glover has led Wando to 12 finals appearances and three state championships. The Warriors lost in the Class AAAAA finals last season. Senior all-stater Grae Gosnell, an Indiana signee and three-year letter winner, is the leader of the team this season. Fellow senior Ali Clare Jahn, the Libero, and senior outside hitter Haley Jenness will be surrounded by underclassmen in key roles.
Junior Ava McCarthy and sophomore Ella Hudock are first-year setters that will learn on the go. Freshmen Emma Sanders and Aurie Fisher will step into key roles along the net while sophomores Emily King and Emily Sturdivant take on increased playing time as well.
Porter-Gaud and Ashley Hall have dominated the SCISA AAA ranks for the last decade, meeting in the finals in eight of the last nine years. Ashley Hall won the title a year ago but lost the state’s top player, Mattison Matthews.
Setter Laughlin Murray, a Mississippi State commit, anchors Ashley Hall. Coach Franny Slay anticipates playing several eighth-graders and sophomores this season.
Porter-Gaud has one of the state’s top sophomores in 6-4 middle Marianna Singletary, with sophomore Alex Hariri playing a key role this fall. The lone senior leader is setter Anushka Fernandes.
“We hope her vast experience will be key in helping our young team run smoothly,” coach Megan Crouch said of Fernandes.
Bishop England’s streak of 18 consecutive state titles ended last season and veteran coach Cindy Baggott will reload with a young roster. The current roster lists only four seniors, led by Shawna Swanson. Baggott says a lot of the youth saw playing time a year ago.
“We are taller than we have ever been,” Baggott said. “I am excited to see them develop.”
Oceanside Collegiate advanced to the Class AA finals last season and coach Amir Khaledi returns three key veterans in seniors Olivia Yarborough, Sophie Meredith and Kate Majewski.
Cathedral Academy won the SCISA Class A state title a year ago. Senior setter Anna Grace Crosby and senior outside hitter Jacquelyn Adams return to lead the Generals this season.