Athlete of the Week: Guest helps Braves step up game

socvol-guestSocastee High junior volleyball standout Mary D. Guest and her Lady Braves teammates knew they were stepping up in classification this season, so they stepped up their game.

In their first season playing in Class 6-4A, the Lady Braves not only claimed a share of the region crown but also advanced to the third round of the Class 4A playoffs with a hard-fought win over Bluffton on Tuesday. Guest, a high-leaping and hard-attacking outside hitter, has played a key role in the surge.

“We knew it was going to be tough moving up, but I feel like we’ve really stepped it up and played our hardest,” said Guest, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for helping Socastee’s late-season run. “We’re coming together at the right time.”

The timing was particularly perfect for Guest, who suffered a severely sprained ankle at midseason and was cutting it close to return before season’s end. Not only did she make a speedy and strong recovery, her play has helped to extend the team’s season too.

“The doctor said a couple of the ligaments were torn all the way through so I was supposed to be out for 3 1/2 weeks,” she said. “But it healed quicker than expected and I was able to come back at the end of the regular season. I really didn’t want to miss it.”

Guest credits teamwork and a new coach for the Lady Braves’ impressive 17-1 season. She and her teammates have been playing together year-round through the Grand Strand Juniors program, and first-year coach Kristi Garrett has helped bring the team together.

“(Coach Garrett) is a big part of it. She has really encouraged us, and she’s smart when it comes to lineups and rotations,” Guest said. “There’s just a vibe there with the whole team that has brought us closer together. We all really want it as a team.”

That determination showed in Tuesday night’s showdown with Bluffton. With the match tied at two sets apiece forcing a 15-point tiebreaker, Socastee trailed 13-10 and was two more points from seeing its season end before scoring five unanswered for the win.

“It was really close to being the end of our season but we just had to dig deep to stay alive,” Guest said. “We have great chemistry and a lot of drive, and that’s what got us through. All of our players have a real passion for the sport and we showed it.”

Guest and the Lady Braves get another chance to advance on Thursday when they travel to River Bluff. With a healthy Guest back in the lineup and a healthy team attitude, the Lady Braves hope to continue to step up their game at the highest level and class.

Photo courtesy of SHS Athletics

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