Region 5-4A champion Lexington hosts Fort Dorchester in a first-round Class 4A state volleyball playoff match on Tuesday. The Wildcats got off to a shaky start this season with two losses right out of the starting gate, but Chee Lee’s team finished the region season with a 13-0 run, not including tournaments.
Lexington closed out the regular season and secured the region championship with a win over neighboring White Knoll.
“The team is looking forward for playoffs; practices have been upbeat and competitive,” said Lee. “I really feel that we will be a force to be reckoned with if we can just communicate more effectively on the floor as a team. If anything, just by committing to effective communication we will have increased our chances to compete for the state title.”
The Wildcats, who have only one senior in the regular rotation, have four solid all-around players in senior Laura Owens, and juniors Kellie Schmidt, Jennifer Hoppe and Laura Grace Swindler. Owens has 82 kills, 105 digs and 43 serving aces on the books. Schmidt is the focus of the Lexington attack with 471 kills, and also excels on defense (139 digs, 23 blocks) and at the serving line (49 aces). Hoppe’s well-rounded game features 155 kills, 23 blocks, 35 digs and a team-high 71 aces. Setter Swinder makes things go with 796 assists, and has also chipped in 35 kills, 91 digs and 43 aces.
There are plenty of valuable roles players, as well. Junior Metta Price has 105 kills, sophomore Katie McCollough has 91 kills, 41 digs and 33 blocks, sophomore Aubrey Dooley has 78 assists, 58 digs and 53 aces, sophomore Kinsey Wade has 74 digs, 39 assists and 23 aces and freshman Kaitlyn Cobb has 71 kills, 37 blocks and 21 digs.
If nothing else, the Wildcats will not have to deal with long-time playoff tormentor Dorman on the road to the state championship match. Lexington, after all, is in the Lower State bracket for the first time.
The imperious Cavaliers eliminated Lee’s club four times in the last five years, including losses in the Upper State final in 2002 and 2003. The Wildcats finally gained the upper hand with a third-round win in 2006, only to fall to Hillcrest in the state semifinals match.
A win in the first round sends the Wildcats on to the second round and another home match on Thursday against either James Island or Hartsville.