Aiken enters the season with the monumental task of defending a state title.
Also staring down the Lady Hornets is the challenge of roster turnover, but coach Malynda Young sees the positives in a group expected to carry the tradition of a statewide power.
“I’m sure that was kind of like a monkey on their back for a while, but I think they realize at this point it’s a whole new season,” Young said. “It’s a whole new thing.”
Aiken went 39-3-3 last year en route to the Class AAAA state championship. The Lady Hornets beat Myrtle Beach 3-0 to win the program’s second state title under Young and first since 2010.
It’s a program consistently reaching the state quarterfinals or better each season, but this year presents the challenge of upperclassmen who must fill holes and take over the team.
A group of seven seniors, six juniors and one sophomore is still adjusting to playing as the main unit, and they also have the challenge of being one of Young’s smaller teams.
“I’ve seen some really bright places with them,” Young said, “We’re going to win some, we’re going to lose some. We just have to keep it going and try to get better and excel at the things we’re good at.”
Aiken showed those positives as well as areas to work on during Tuesday night’s matches with Greenbrier and Lakeside. The host Lady Wolfpack shut down Aiken 3-0 in the first match, but the Lady Hornets bounced back to beat the Lady Panthers 2-1, including a thrilling 25-23 clinching set.
Senior hitters Nescotia Harrison and Zymbraya Corley will be counted on for production, while senior libero Madison Jones will again be a key piece to Aiken’s puzzle.
Meanwhile, Greenbrier showed why it’s again a region contender after finishing as Region 3-AAAAAA runner-up last season. The Lady Wolfpack reached the second round of the playoffs last year and could aim for higher results this time under coach Kevin Williams.
Lakeside enters with high hopes after winning region last year for the first time since 2009 and reaching the second round of the playoffs. The Lady Panthers are fielding another talented roster and will be a force within the area under coach Moe McCormack.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.