Porter-Gaud’s volleyball program is back on top of the Class AAA SCISA ranks after dismantling Cardinal Newman in the state finals in Columbia on Tuesday night.
The Cyclones won their ninth title in the last 10 years after seeing their eight-year reign atop Class AAA end with a loss to Ashley Hall in the final a year ago. On Tuesday, Porter-Gaud left little doubt, winning 25-20, 25-14, 25-16 to finish the season with a 39-11-1 record.
“It’s extra special,” Cyclones coach Megan Crouch said. “Winning eight in a row is something sweet, but starting a new tradition with these kids is incredible. It’s a really good feeling. It’s been a tough year, and they’ve overcome a lot of obstacles, so I’m really happy to send these seniors out with a win.
“We overcame a lot of obstacles this season. The girls never let any of that get in their way. It was true teamwork – from the coaching staff in the beginning of the year to this end of the year overcoming everything. I’m just proud of how far they’ve come this year.”
Marianna Singletary and Alex Hariri paced the offensive attack with 15 kills each. Setter Anushka Fernandes had 28 assists, while Gracie Brown was a defensive leader with 13 digs.
The Cyclones were dominant from the outset of the championship battle, grabbing control with a 13-8 lead in the first game. Porter-Gaud jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the second game and used an 8-0 run to open a commanding advantage. While Game 3 began a little closer, a 14-9 advantage put the Cyclones in position to sweep.
Porter-Gaud trailed only a few times in the match, all early in each game.
“We took it hard,” said Crouch of the loss last season. “The pressure of the streak was a lot, but it felt good this year, we could just be our team this season. We were about being us and being the best version of that.”
Crouch has never taken winning for granted and said this year’s team came into this season very focused and determined.
“It started in the offseason,” the coach said. “It’s a special group of kids. We’re still really young. They’ve risen to the occasion every weekend. In the last month, we’ve really put it together.
“We play in some high-level tournaments through the season, and we’ve won a couple and placed really high. So, this was our goal. It’s our goal every year to be in this match and win it.”
Cathedral Academy also played for a SCISA state title but lost to Beaufort Academy in the Class A finale on Monday night. Cathedral was the defending state champion.
Chris Dearing contributed to this report.