Coming off a state runner-up finish in 2011, the Aiken volleyball team is relying on a strong returning core to return to the finals again.
The Lady Hornets are off to a 10-4 start, highlighted by region wins over White Knoll and Dutch Fork. Six of their wins have been shutouts, and their lone shutout loss was to Greenbrier.
Senior Natasha Dicks has been the leader of the Aiken attack as its strongest hitter, recording 214 kills through the first 13 matches, including 26 in the win over White Knoll. Dicks has also added 123 digs over that span.
“She’s an all-stater, and right now she’s hitting the ball really hard, and a lot of people are noticing her,” coach Malynda Young said. “She’s a big help to the team.”
Young said several colleges have looked at Dicks, but no commitment has been made. One of Aiken’s stars that has committed is senior Tyler Smith, who has 100 kills and 149 digs over the first 13 matches and is set to play for Wingate after graduation.
The first big region test for Aiken comes today at home against Lexington. The two teams met Sept. 8 in the third and final game of the Sumter Invitational Tournament as a non-region match, and Young admitted to fatigue as Aiken fell 2-1 to Lexington.
“Part of our weaknesses have been maturity and experience, and unfortunately you can’t gain experience unless you go through it,” Young said. “But our basic returning core is strong, and the girls work hard. I think they will see success.”
GREENBRIER ROLLS: Two softball heavyweights in Region 2A-AAAAA met Thursday in a game that broke one team’s perfect region record while keeping the other intact.
Greenbrier defeated Evans 3-1 as Taylor Dupree went 2 for 2 with a double and two RBI to lead the Lady Wolfpack. Kirsten Titus picked up the win with seven innings of one-run ball against an Evans team that averaged more than eight runs per game coming in.
After the win, Greenbrier moved to 15-5, including 3-0 in region play. The loss put Evans at 11-5-1, making them 2-1 in the region. The two teams will meet again Sept. 25 in the final game of the regular season.
In similar fashion, Harlem beat Westside 5-3 on Thursday to maintain its perfect region record in 3-AA while Westside was tagged with its first region loss.
Tori Poss went 3 for 4 with a double and a triple to lead the Lady Bulldogs, while Amber Garrett remained strong on the mound, earning her eighth win.
CROSS COUNTRY RANKINGS: Several local schools have found a home in the state cross country rankings each week.
Week 3 of the ga.milesplit.com cross country rankings has the Lakeside boys at No. 1 in the state for Class AAAAA, while a first-place finish at the Wildwood Park meet on Sept. 8 vaulted Greenbrier to the No. 7 spot. The Wolfpack easily handled the Wildwood meet by 33 points over second-place Hephzibah.
The Hephzibah boys were No. 8 in the Class AAAA list.
Lakeside girls are ranked second in the Class AAAAA poll as the lone local GHSA girls team in the rankings.
On the GISA side, Augusta Prep girls are ranked first in the Class AAA poll while the boys are ranked second. Brentwood also made an appearance at No. 8 for both boys and girls in Class AA.