Aiken’s volleyball team is in the familiar position of another state volleyball title run, but the Lady Hornets’ third-round opponent is performing at a level not seen in nearly 10 years.
South Aiken will travel within the city limits to Aiken’s gym to play the Lady Hornets in the third round of the Class AAAA playoffs Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Aiken last won a state championship in 2010 and has been in the state finals the past three seasons under coach Malynda Young. Aiken’s seniors have experienced the state finals every year of their high school careers and are seeking a fourth.
“I think it’s made us want to win our last year even more,” Aiken’s Anna Tovo said. “Finishing out our senior year with a win would be really cool.”
The Lady Hornets won their first two playoff matches this year in sweeps, beating Spring Valley and West Ashley. Tovo had 19 kills and fellow senior Emily Teelon added 32 assists in Thursday’s win over West Ashley.
For South Aiken, the playoffs are less familiar. The Lady Thoroughbreds are in the midst of a state title run for the first time since 2004, and they have reached the third round as a No. 4 seed under coach Laurie Ulmer.
South Aiken defeated Carolina Forest and Fort Dorchester on the road in the first two rounds, including a 3-1 win against Fort Dorchester on Thursday. Bailey Parker had 16 kills and 17 digs, and Lauren Howard recorded 10 kills and 44 assists in that victory.
Two matchups this year favored Aiken, as the Lady Hornets beat South Aiken 3-1 on Oct. 1 and 3-0 on Oct. 22. But the Lady Thoroughbreds figure to play at their highest level against a rival in a deep playoff match, meaning a potential test for the heavyweight Hornets.
STATE WINNERS: Two area prep athletes have been chosen as state winners for a national scholar-athlete award.
Augusta Christian’s Anna Motes, Davidson’s Dallas Hayes and Briarwood’s Tiffany Pate were three of 20 Georgia nominees, and Aiken’s Sarah Gwinn was a South Carolina nominee, for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, an honor given to one male and female nationwide for excellence in athletics and academics.
Pate and Gwinn were chosen as the female Georgia and South Carolina winners, respectively, Monday.
One male and female finalist from each state was announced Monday, and 12 of those will be chosen as national finalists. The two national winners will be announced during a ceremony in New York on Dec. 13, and they will be recognized during the Heisman Trophy presentation the following night.
The two national winners receive a crystal trophy, a $500 Wendy’s gift certificate and $10,000 to each winner’s high school.
FINISHING STRONG: South Aiken’s girls golf team finished tied for sixth in the Class AAAA state championship on Oct. 28-29.
The lone representative from the area, South Aiken posted 673 to tie with Easley. Lexington won the state title with 580.
Anna Freeman led South Aiken with a two-round total of 158, shooting consecutive rounds of 79 to finish 19th individually. Brooke Hutto shot 81-84 for 165 at Willow Creek Golf Club in Greer, S.C.