Panthers slip past Sharks in Sumter Invitational final

A pair of Grand Strand teams made a two-hour drive to square off in the Sumter Invitational Tournament championship, as Carolina Forest edged St. James 2-1 in the finals to bring home the hardware.

The Lady Sharks shocked the Panthers in the first set 25-14, but the Panthers focused a bit more to take the second set 25-16. The third set teetered back and forth before Carolina Forest took home the win 15-10.

The Panthers played strong all day by sweeping their way through pool play in 2-0 wins over Lake City, Camden, and White Knoll. They were seeded No. 1 going into tournament play, where they defeated Lake City and Sumter before facing St. James for the championship.

St. James also started strong in pool play, beating Irmo 25-22, 25-14. The Lady Sharks also made quick work of Sumter 25-21, 25-14 in the second pool play match. Against a much taller Dutch Fork team it took St. James a little more time to adjust, resulting in a close loss in the first game 20-25. But the Lady Sharks found the winning formula and outplayed their opponents to take the second game 25-23.

Heading into tournament play seeded second, the Lady Sharks faced Irmo again, this time in the single elimination tournament. The team found a rhythm and defeated the Class 5A team from Columbia 25-17, 25-19. Dutch Fork played a three-set match to defeat Camden, setting up a rematch with Irmo. But the scrappy Lady Sharks capitalized on superior serve receive and defense to moved on to the championship match against their neighbors from Carolina Forest.

Carolina Forest seniors Alexis Tomlin, Meghan DeVaux and Hannah Walton were named All Tournament Team. Tomlin also grabbed the Tournament MVP award. St. James senior Mallory Farmer and junior Rebecca Arteaga also were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Carolina Forest returns to region play Tuesday at South Florence. St. James returns to action Wednesday for Senior Night in a key region showdown at home with Myrtle Beach.

Photo courtesy of CFHS Athletics

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