While most of the attention this week surrounds the official start of football practice for teams in the S.C. High School League, it should be noted that other fall sports also are underway in the Lowcountry.
Once again, the Lowcountry will serve as a hotbed for prep volleyball with the usual list of state contenders expected to remain the same.
SCISA powerhouse Porter-Gaud may be the area’s best team this fall. The Cyclones, winners of nine state titles in the last 10 years, are the defending Class AAA state champions and return arguably the state’s best player in 6-4 junior Marianna Singletary.
Singletary, who recently committed to the University of Texas, has tallied more than 1,000 kills in her first two varsity campaigns, including 539 kills last season.
Porter-Gaud's Alex Hariri, also a junior, returns as a versatile all-around performer. Hariri had 298 kills, 295 assists and 264 defensive digs last season. Junior Hannah Pierce returns as the Libero and is a key floor leader.
“We’re excited to start competing and have set the goal for another state championship,” said coach Megan Crouch, who has won seven titles as head coach.
Wando went 36-10 a year ago before losing in the Class AAAA Lower State finals to River Bluff. Coach Alexis Glover, the state’s all-time winningest volleyball coach, must replace three four-year starters.
“We are big but young this year,” Glover said. “The (personnel) losses and the combination of no summer workouts and a six-day preseason will be challenging. But the players are so happy to be in the gym and so happy to be playing the sport they love. The energy is very high.”
Senior outside hitter Brynn Whitehair, who has committed to Marshall, will be a key offensive leader. Senior Ava McCarthy posted 511 assists last season and will be the top setter. Junior Emily King works the middle of the net and tallied 205 kills and 141 blocks last fall, while senior Libero Chanley Thompson is a leader defensively.
Oceanside Collegiate has a pair of Class AA Lower State titles in the last two years but moves up to Class AAA this fall. Veteran coach Amir Khaledi must replace three all-state caliber players and will work with a younger roster this season. Senior Libero Jordan Bartemeyer, senior outside Taylor Hills, and senior middle Reese Vorster will be the key returners from last season’s 38-7 squad.
Bishop England and Ashley Hall also rate as two of the area powers but both had sub-par seasons a year ago. Bishop England saw its 18-year run as state champion end a year ago and coach Cindy Baggott has a roster full of underclassmen this season. Key returners include juniors Catherine Shippee, Adry Simmons, AC McInnis, Ella Schar, and setter Leah Zimlich.
Senior all-stater Laughlin Murray will lead a young Ashley Hall squad this season. Murray, a Mississippi State commitment, had 518 assists and 148 kills last season. The only other senior on the roster, Anna Leigh Snyder, had 143 kills last fall.
Ashley Ridge is the defending Region 8-AAAAA champion and returns senior hitter Vanessa Blake (202 kills, 165 blocks last year) and senior middle Alli Atkinson (176 kills, 156 blocks).
James Island moves down to Class AAAA after making a good playoff run in Class AAAAA last season. Seniors Annie McClure and Katie Tillman return as the top performers from 2019.
Moncks Corner football jamboree
The Moncks Corner Lions Club has announced plans for its 2020 football jamboree set for Sept. 18 at Berkeley High School. Play begins at 6 p.m., and admission is $7.
The matchups, consisting of two quarters each, include Cane Bay vs. Philip Simmons, Goose Creek vs. Colleton County, Stratford vs. Hanahan, and Berkeley vs. Andrews. There also are plans to hold a cheerleading competition among the participating schools.
Friday's SCISA football schedule
Pinewood Prep at Wilson Hall
Ben Lippen at First Baptist
Laurence Manning at Porter-Gaud
Beaufort Academy at Colleton Prep
Dorchester Academy at Orangeburg Prep
St. John’s Christian at Christian Academy
Palmetto Christian at Newberry Academy
Cathedral at Patrick Henry
Faith Christian at Charleston Collegiate