The SCISA Class 3A state volleyball tournament begins on Friday at the Sumter Exhibition Center.
Region 1 champion Hammond, Cardinal Newman and Heathwood Hall are all scheduled for action. Hammond opens against Orangeburg Prep at 1:45 p.m. Cardinal Newman at Heathwood Hall both have first-round matches in the lower bracket at 4:25 p.m. The Cardinals take on Laurence Manning Academy, while the Highlanders draw Hilton Head Prep.
Hammond, which has not won a volleyball title since 1984, has high hopes of at least making it to the Final Four this season behind the play of veteran seniors Elaine Epting and Kaki Smith. Epting, a 6-4 middle hitter/blocker, has 72 kills and 38 blocks. Smith makes the team go as the primary setter.
The veteran leaders have plenty of support from the likes of Kiley Lawrence (193 digs, 18 serviing aces), Mary Ashley Reaves (42 kills, 160 digs), Caroline Hudon (146 digs, 15 aces, 45 kills) and Bailey Dukes (66 kills, 162 digs, 12 aces).
“While many teams have essentially played together as a team since middle school, our team has absorbed a public school transfer, a player from another country, a sidelined player, and players from three different classes, all of whom contribute very evenly, to form the most successful team in recent Hammond history,” said Skyhawks coach Andy Edgren.
According to Edgren, Smith and Epting have been playing together since the eighth grade and they work well together in the front row. Senior Sarah Felmly provides solid backup support in the middle. Juniors Caroline Hudon, who in from Canada two years ago and did not speak English, and Emily Bakhaus, who had been sidelined by injuries the past two seasons, are now major contributors at outside hittier and in the middle, respectively.
Emily Wassermann, a defensive specialist, is another recent addition to the varsity squad.
Four key sophomores round off the roster – potent outside hitter Dukes, Hannah Alexander (MH), Mary Ashley Reeves, (DS, OH, RH), and transfer student Kiley Lawrence, who jumped quickly into the Libero role.