Airport didn’t have any miracles left for Wednesday’s Class 3A Lower State championship match at home against vastly underrated North Myrtle Beach.
The Eagles, who rallied from a 0-2 deficit to beat Hilton Head 3-2 in a third-round thriller on Monday, dropped a 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-13) decision to the 28-1 Chiefs, who were ranked No. 6 in the final coaches poll of the regular season.
“That’s a very smart, scrappy team,” Airport coach Jessica Metts said. “They get everything up and it’s tough to build momentum against a team that sends everything back over the net at you. Things we did to score on all season didn’t work tonight, and the girls got frustrated. We didn’t play our best game, but we did play hard to the end.”
North Myrtle Beach senior captain Taylor Allman made a lasting impression on the Eagles’ coach.
“She’s such a smart hitter,” Metts said. “Every time we made an adjustment, she’d find a hole somewhere else and put the ball down there. She is a very difficult player to defend. She is going to go far in her volleyball career.”
Allman shared match-scoring honors with teammate Ellen Johnson with 18 kills and also played well on the back line in the biggest match of her life.
“We had a rebuilding year last season, but we came back ready to play this year,” Allman said. “We’ve been playing with a great deal of confidence, and we’re really looking forward to Saturday and a chance to win a state championship.”
Airport did not have the firepower to counter the precision hitting of Allman and Johnson. North Myrtle Beach ended with a decisive 47-29 edge in kills. Moreover, the Eagles seldom had the lead, which took the home crowd out of the equation.
Airport scored the first point of the match, but did not have the lead again until early in the third game. The advantage was brief as kills by Allman and Johnson put the Chiefs back in front for good at 5-4.
Junior outside hitter Mary Grace Heustess led Airport with 10 kills, and sophomore middle hitter-blocker Breanna Hampton had eight. Sophomore setter Sophie Perkins had 22 assists.
The Region 5-3A champion Eagles finished with a 12-8 record.