Athlete of the Week: Allman has NMB on cusp of dream

North Myrtle Beach senior Taylor Allman has won just about every individual award they hand out – region player of the year, all-state team, even the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week three times.

But the Lady Chiefs’ outside hitter would trade them all for the top team honor – a Class 3A volleyball state championship. As it turns out, she may not have to.

Allman led No. 1-ranked North Myrtle Beach to another 3-0 sweep in the playoffs Monday, this time over visiting Hanahan, to advance to the Lower State Final on Wednesday at Airport. After a season of 28 wins and only one loss, the Lady Chiefs are one win away from their ultimate goal.

“We made a poster at the start of the season listing our goals and the main goal was to make it to state,” said Allman, who had 19 kills in the Lady Chiefs’ Lower State semifinal win. “To be so close is really exciting. Now we want to get there and win it.”

Allman has been this close before and come away empty-handed. As a sophomore, she helped a talented team to the Lower State finals only to fall short, a memory that still haunts her and her upperclassmates. This group has kept its eye on the prize all season.

Beginning with the season-opening Carolina Forest Invitational, where North Myrtle Beach lined up against some of the top teams in the state to finish second. It was the last match the Lady Chiefs lost all season, and they haven’t lost a single set since a 3-1 victory over Myrtle Beach on Sept. 25. That’s 10 straight sweeps … and counting.

“When we lost that set to Myrtle Beach it was like we got angry,” Allman said. “It definitely lit a fire under us and we all pulled together. When we’re playing in the right mind set we’re a tough a team to beat.”

Ironically, one of the teams North Myrtle Beach defeated back in the Carolina Forest tournament was Airport, sweeping the Lady Falcons 2-0 in an abbreviated match. Of course, Airport has gotten better since then, as evident by its 3-2 upset of top-seeded Hilton Head on Monday. But then again, so have the Lady Chiefs.

“They’ve improved a lot. They beat Hilton Head so they’ve got to have a great team,” Allman said. “We expect them to give us a great fight. We do pretty well on the road so we just want to go there and play our game.”

Which brings us to Allman’s only individual goals. Instead of awards and accolades, her goal for the season has been to be the best teammate she can be to help the Lady Chiefs achieve the ultimate team goal.

“My goal was to make sure I have positive attitude, to be that senior leader we need, and to keep them fired up,” she said. “If I can do that and we can keep playing our best, all the team and personal goals will take care of themselves.”

Twenty-eight down, two to go.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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