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Seahawks ruin Camden’s AAA state title party plans

Posted: November 3, 2011 12:19 p.m.
Updated: November 4, 2011 5:00 a.m.

C-I (Camden, S.C.) sports editor

Trying to enter the party which is the AAA state volleyball championship, Camden was stopped at the door. And, the bouncer was Myrtle Beach.

On a night in which Camden had everything in its favor --- home court advantage and a large, pro-CHS crowd --- the Lady Bulldogs could not overcome the visitors from the Grand Strand, who swept their way into Saturday’s finals against Eastside with a 3-0 win over Camden (28-4) inside the Dog Pound Wednesday night.

Attempting to return to the state championship match for the first time since falling to Pickens in 2002, Paige Wilson’s charges fell in the Lower State finale for the third time in four seasons. This latest setback, however, seemed to sting even more.

"The farther you go along, the tougher the opponent gets and the harder it gets," said Wilson, who chose her words carefully. "We just didn’t have our best night out. We just didn’t play well under the pressure of playing against a closely matched team.

"Myrtle Beach is definitely a good team, but I don’t think that we were on our best game tonight."

Camden’s downfall could be directly traced to errors and missed opportunities, especially in a 25-19 game one loss. In the opener alone, the hostesses committed 10 errors and had an uncharacteristic three service errors, not to mention several others of the unforced variety.

"I did expect us to play better. We had been playing better and I felt that we were ready going in, for a tough, pressure kind of match. But we didn’t show that we were," Wilson said.

Camden’s miscues started mounting up in game one after the Lady Dogs used a Seahawks’ double-hit to take a 17-15 lead. With things knotted at 18, CHS was called for being in the net, which led to a 4-0 MB (21-6) run. When the home team could not find the mark with its return and/or kill attempts, the guests had a one game advantage.

Wilson said her team made some subtle changes in attempting to take away the MB net threat, which is middle hitter Meaghan Milligan who, reportedly, has 54 college scholarship offers. The six-foot junior was not a factor in the early going, but her game started to come around toward the end of game two and throughout the final contest.

"We knew about the big girl (Milligan) in the middle; that was the main thing," Wilson said of her team’s scouting report on MB. "It wasn’t until later in the match that she started to dominate. But the rest of their team is solid, too, and they played very aggressive defense.

"We tried to shift our lineup around to match up a little differently, but that didn’t seem to make a difference when we shifted. They just went that much harder. The little adjustments that we made in our offense didn’t seem to make the difference that we had hoped they would make."

Camden struggled out of the box in game two, trailing 9-2, which led to a CHS time out. The Lady Bulldogs would get a pair of aces from junior Maggie Speaks as part of a 6-1 run which chopped the deficit to 10-8.

The two sides jockeyed for the lead as the game was knotted at 17, 18, 19 and 20 before a pair of CHS miscues led to a 22-20 MB advantage. Camden used a Speaks kill to even things at 22 and got another point from Speak to close to within 24-23, only to have Milligan find the floor with a spike to put this one away and put the Lady Dogs’ season on the brink of coming to an end.

Later, Wilson said the air was taken from her team’s sails after trailing 2-0.

"It’s hard to fight back when you’re two down. A second game win would have given us a little momentum, which would have helped … it just wasn’t our night. They were a tougher team, but a team that I think we could have played closer."

As was the case in game two, the guests jumped to a large early lead. When it was 8-1, Wilson called a time out and soon thereafter, the lead had been chopped to 9-4. But that would be as close as this one would get as the Seahawks’ front line, led by Milligan, began to get the best of things along the net.

"(Milligan) came on strong as the game went on," Wilson said. "Early in the game, we had errors. We weren’t on our game and gave them more opportunities and as the match went on, their big middle began to dominate.

"They had a great defense; they really hustled on defense. They just kept the ball in play."

Speaks had seven kills, three aces, nine digs and eight assists for Camden. Kelsey Hutto and Lindsey Cobb each had five kills while Olivia Nash added three. Amber Jackson led CHS with 10 assists while Brooke Maxwell had two aces and eight digs.

Passing-wise, Morgan Wilson and Hutto were both 13-of-14 with their passes to target. Maxwell found her intended target 19 of 21 times while Brittany Bullard was 11-for-15.

Wilson said the mounting errors led to this being her team’s final match of the season

"I thought that we were matched up with a team that, on our best night, we can play with," she said. "I did expect us to play better. We had been playing better and I felt that we were ready, going in, for a tough, pressure kind of match but we didn’t show that we were."

Wilson said her team gave her all it had, only to come up short on Wednesday.

"From the beginning to the end of this season, I’m real proud of this team. We got better as the season went on and we got better at the end," she said. "I know what they’re capable of; it’s disappointing when you don’t play your best when it counts.

"It’s always hard to lose. You’d like to go down saying that you played your best match and, it’s tough when you feel like you didn’t and you weren’t quite on your game. It just wasn’t in the cards for us tonight."

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