Eastside halts Seahawks’ quest for first state title

The Myrtle Beach High volleyball team’s magical march to the Class AAA state championship ended one win shy on Saturday, falling to Eastside 3-0 at White Knoll High School.

The Lady Seahawks had swept their way to the title game, losing only one game in their final 12 matches of the season. But this time they were swept by the Lady Eagles 25-23, 25-23, 25-18 to end Myrtle Beach’s hopes at capturing the first state title in the sport.

“I don’t think it was the big crowd as much the big stage,” said Myrtle Beach coach Larry Church. “None of them had been in this situation before and we’ve been talking about it for the past two months. I think they put too much pressure on themselves.”

Both teams appeared to come out nervous but Eastside built an early 13-5 advantage in Game 1 that forced Myrtle Beach coach Larry Church to call a timeout to settle his players’ uncharacteristic performances.

“I told them, ‘You’re a bunch of high school girls just like Eastside. They’re going to make mistakes too just like we are, so put it behind you,’ ” Church recalled. “We had too many unforced errors and that’s not us.”

The Lady Seahawks (19-7) responded by taking the lead late at 23-22, but the Lady Eagles (26-4) scored the final three points to claim the first set to the cheers of the Eastside-heavy crowd.

Myrtle Beach ran to a big advantage in the second set, with junior Meagan Milligan serving six straight en route to a 22-16 lead. But the Lady Eagles scored six unanswered points to tie it up and closed it out by scoring the final two.

The missed opportunities seemed to weigh on the Lady Seahawks in the third set as Eastside sprinted out to an early lead and never looked back. Milligan led Myrtle Beach with 12 kills and senior Amy Wiggins had four, but the team combined for 12 service errors and only two blocks.

Myrtle Beach still scored its best showing in program history and a banner for volleyball, one of the few sports that doesn’t have a state title or runner-up finish at MBHS, will be displayed in the near future.

The Lady Seahawks also have a good opportunity to make another run at the state title next year as Milligan and sophomore Shelby Sheets are among the returning starters. But for the 10 seniors, the road ends just short of the ultimate destination.

“After the match, some of them were inconsolable,” Church said. “Not because of the loss so much as the fact that this was their last high school volleyball match.”

Photo by Rancier Photography

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