MB tries to parlay season’s low point into first state title

The low point of the Myrtle Beach High’s season also proved to be the turning point for the Lady Seahawks, who play for the school’s first-ever Class AAA state volleyball championship Saturday.

Cruising through lesser competition early in the season, the Lady Seahawks embarked on a nightmare road trip to the Tournament of Champions in Dorman, where they more than met their match.

After a five-hour bus ride, Myrtle Beach played five straight matches against the state’s top teams in a six-hour period, took a short dinner break for dinner, played two more matches in three hours and then got back on the bus for the long ride home.

In all, it was a 20-hour journey, Myrtle Beach lost six of seven matches and, most damaging of all, star player Meagan Milligan suffered a sprained ankle and would miss part of the critical region schedule.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Myrtle Beach coach Larry Church. “Our girls played real hard against some great teams and they learned what it takes to play at that level.

“But the biggest thing was the loss of Meagan. It forced them to come together and raise their raise their level of play without her in the lineup. What was really surprising was that it happened almost instantaneously.”

Myrtle Beach returned from the Upstate tournament battered and bruised, but also determined to turn things around. The Lady Seahawks beat defending region champion North Myrtle Beach in its own gym with Milligan on the sidelines.

Milligan’s return shortly after only increased the Lady Seahawks’ confidence. They won 12 straight matches to close the season, 11 of them sweeps, losing only one game to Bluffton over the final six weeks of the season.

“We were playing OK from the start of the season, but we had to come together as a team to play at the level we’re capable of,” said senior Amy Wiggins. “Even though we missed Meagan, I think it was some drama we had to go through to get better as a team.”
Ironically, the Lady Seahawks will board a bus Saturday morning, just as they did for their turning-point Tournament of Champions six weeks ago. This time they hope to find the high point of the season and the program’s history with a state championship.

If the Lady Seahawks are nervous, they certainly didn’t show it Friday. Milligan, Caitlin Causey and Madison Doss performed a rap song at a school pep rally and the final practice before departing was a light-hearted gigglefest, but Saturday is all business.

“We knew at the start of the season we had the potential to win the state,”Milligan said, “but now we believe we can do it.”

Myrtle Beach faces East Side at 3 p.m.

 

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