Can Wildcats dominate beyond Region 5?
Lexington has rolled through Region 5-4A undefeated and is set to wrap up the regular season with a No. 2 ranking from the state's volleyball coaches.
Coach Chee Lee's team slipped once in the regular season, a three-set loss to No. 1 Dorman in September. And in their tournament Oct. 3, the Wildcats suffered losses to Aiken and Daniel, but seem to have emerged much stronger. Lexington has not dropped a game since the tournament and will finish with the Region 5 title.
In the Lower State bracket, Lexington will be the big fish, especially with kills leader Kellie Schmidt up front, and LG Swindler setting.
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Blythewood looks to recapture the magic
In 2006, Blythewood tore through the Class 3A playoffs, reaching the Upper State final, and the next year reached the third round. Since moving to Class 4A, the Bengals have not gotten that far.
In 2008, Blythewood pushed Dorman to five sets before falling in the second round of the playoffs. This year, the fifth-ranked Bengals have mopped up Region 4, and look to head into the playoffs with an unblemished region record and a No. 1 seed.
This might set the Bengals up for a deep playoff run, but reaching the finals would mean Blythewood would eventually have to face Dorman again.
White Knoll is a team on the rise
In six years, the White Knoll Timberwolves have appeared in the playoffs five times, and advanced to the second round twice.
This year, they are poised to make their best run yet. They have earned a top-10 ranking and with Dutch Fork sitting out of the playoffs on probation, the Timberwolves look to be the No. 3 seed out of Region 5-4A.
Lugoff-Elgin seeks playoff success
The Demons returned plenty of talent from last year's 18-12 team and have shown their prowess by rising to No. 3 in the Class 3A rankings.
Solid play by 6-foot, senior middle hitter Hannah Dederick and senior Brandi Shull as well as setters Tyler and Megan Kirkland has allowed Lugoff-Elgin to roll through Region 4. Now the Demons hope for a longer stay in the Class 3A playoffs. The Demons haven't advanced to the third round since 2006.
Last season, Lugoff-Elgin placed second in Region 4 and defeated Wade Hampton (G) in the first round before losing at Pickens. Blythewood beat Lugoff-Elgin in a second-round playoff match in 2007.
Camden looks to build on strong 2008 run
The Bulldogs advanced within a win of a state championship appearance last fall and are hoping for another impressive run through the Lower State.
Camden, ranked No. 9 in this week's Class 3Apoll, has received solid power play from junior Lauren Jeffcoat and counts on leadership and steady play from senior libero Lauren Maxwell. Freshman middle hitter/setter Maggie Speaks, who stands 5-9, also has played well.
Brookland-Cayce wants more success
The Bearcats hope last year's second-place finish in Region 5-3A and two playoff wins are the start big things to come.
Brookland-Cayce is ranked No. 10 in Class 3A this week. With fellow Region 5 member South Aiken, last year's region champion, ranked No. 7, the Bearcats are in line to begin the Class 3A Lower Sate playoffs at home.
Keenan looks to Davis for leadership
The Raiders reached their peak two years ago when they made it to the Class 2A finals, but have not been back since.
Last year, Keenan won the Region 4 title but its postseason was cut short when it fell to Gilbert in four games in the third round of the playoffs.
The Raiders, ranked sixth in the state, are on track to make another deep run this season, but will need strong leadership from junior Rebekah Davis and consistent, focused play from the rest of their young roster to improve on last year's standing.
Columbia overcomes inexperience
Ranked ninth in the state, coach Anita Mobley's Capitals have held their own despite being a fairly inexperienced team. Aside from setbacks against Keenan and Gilbert, both top-10 teams, the Capitals have been strong through the regular season.
As the likely No. 2 seed from Region 4-2A, the Capitals should fare well in the early rounds.
But if their results against the Raiders and Indians are any indication, the Capitals could have some trouble by the third round.
Gilbert ready to top last year's second-place finish
Last year's Class 2A runners-up are in position to repeat their trip to the state finals.
After a big win against Broome to reach the 2008 championship, and a tough loss to Bishop England in the title match, the Indians returned to the top of their class this season.
Their sole defeat this season came at the hands of Class 4A Spring Valley. And coach Jackie Shealy's team has much the same gutsy and determined roster as it did during last year's playoff run.
The Indians will be the No. 1 seed out of Region 3-2A.
Cardinal Newman could claim title
The Cardinals (12-4) are primed for a big weekend in Sumter at the SCISA state volleyball tournament Oct 22-24.
Two of Cardinal Newman's losses this season have come to SCISA schools: five-set matches against Hammond and St. Joseph's this month. Cardinal Newman had defeated those teams earlier in the season.
Led by seniors Nazley Wilson, Denise Jeanmougin and junior Alex Watson, the Cardinals are ranked No. 5 in SCISA. Top-ranked Porter-Gaud, Ashley Hall and Northwood will be Cardinal Newman's top competition for the state championship.
But coach Bob Watson has his team battle-tested by a challenging schedule. The Cardinals have defeated ranked SCHSL Class 3A teams Camden and Brookland-Cayce as well as unranked opponents Irmo (Class 4A) and Airport (Class 3A). They've also lost to a five-game match to Lugoff-Elgin, the No. 3-ranked Class 3A team, and were defeated by Irmo.