NMB rises to the top with Class 4A volleyball crown

After losing a hard-fought first set in Saturday’s Class 4A state volleyball match, North Myrtle Beach coach Alex Sing chose to use a carrot instead of a stick to motivate his team.

“Even though we lost, we actually played really well in the first set,” Sing said. “I felt good about it and I told them they should feel good about it.

“We just needed to clean up a few mistakes. Even when they jumped on us early, our girls didn’t get down. They were looking at each like, ‘Hey, we can do this.’ ”

That’s exactly what the Lady Chiefs did, claiming a 3-1 victory over Pickens in Lexington and capturing the program’s second state championship it has been so close to earning since winning it all in 2012.

None of the current players, nor the third-year coach Sing, were on the roster were around for that feat. Fittingly, NMB was led by senior starters Kayla Henley and Sydney Bellamy, who had 16 and nine kills respectively, and finally reached their goal of going out on top.

“Kayla and Sydney have given a lot to this program, and they have been there through all the second-place finishes,” Sing said. “They were hungry and they were due. They just had to finish.”

When the Lady Chiefs put the finishing touches on a 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-20 victory, the celebration lasted all the way back to Horry County. The team bus received a police escort to the school, where crowds assembled to welcome the state champs. The party then proceeded to Buffalo Wild Wing and lasted past midnight.

No problem since the Lady Chiefs have become far from a Cinderella story. The win was also a victory for volleyball on the Grand Strand, which earned its second straight Class 4A title. Rival Myrtle Beach won it all in 2017, and the two programs battled one another for the right to advance to the state final for the second consecutive season.

The area’s success can be traced back to the formation of the Grand Strand Juniors volleyball club. The youth travel group was started 11 years ago by Sing and Myrtle Beach coaching counterpart Larry Church, who is taking a season off from the Lady Seahawks next season.

“We set out on that journey with the idea, ‘Let’s try to make everybody better, not just our programs, but all the other schools too,’ ” said Sing, who previously led Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach to a SCISA state title. “This area has become known for volleyball and we want to keep it that way.”

File Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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