Lady Chiefs dig deep to win first 3A state championship

The North Myrtle Beach volleyball team set their goal of a Class 3A state championship on the first day of practice last summer. On Saturday, it was mission accomplished.

The Lady Chiefs won their first state title in the history of the program, scoring a 3-1 victory over 12-time state champion Pickens at White Knoll High School in Columbia.

Perhaps feeling the jitters of their first state championship match appearance, the Lady Chiefs led 21-14 before giving up 11 straight points to the Lady Flames. The Lady Chiefs had their 34-set winning streak snapped in the opener in a 21-25 defeat.

But North Myrtle Beach (30-1) simply started a new winning streak, showing the poise of a state champion with three consecutive victories of 25-18, 25-17, 25-9 to clinch the Class 3A state title in their first-ever appearance in the finals.

After falling in the opener, the Lady Chiefs looked more comfortable with each ensuing set. Libero Moriah Jones’ ace made it 24-14 and, after Pickens tried to rally with four straight points, Sarah McCloskey scored the match-tying kill.

The third set started as even as it gets, with neither team leading by more than two until it was tied at 11-all. The Lady Chiefs scored five straight points and seven of eight to build an 18-12 lead, then junior Marci Chestnut made back-to-back blocks and a kill to close out the 25-17 victory.

The final set was all North Myrtle Beach, with an Ellen Johnson kill making it 5-1 and back-to-back scores by senior Taylor Allman for a 13-5 advantage. Johnson recorded six straight service points, two of them aces, to make it 22-7 and Presley Fullum and Allman scored the final two kills to clinch the title.

Allman led the Lady Chiefs with 18 kills and Johnson added 14. Tara Hix had 18 assists and Madison Treece had 17.

Photo by Digital Magic Photography

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