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Aiken volleyball building toward another playoff run

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Another year for Aiken volleyball means another opportunity for a deep playoff run.

Aiken has been to the South Carolina Class AAAA state finals each of the past three years, including winning a state title in 2010. The Lady Hornets have come up short in the finals to Hillcrest the past two years.

Players have come and gone over that span, but coach Malynda Young has been behind the success from the start, and she continues to teach winning teams.

The 2013 season appears no different, with Aiken currently sporting a 27-4 record, including 4-0 in Region 5-AAAA.

Young said a big reason for the continued success this season has been team chemistry.

“This team just came together faster, which is a good thing,” she said. “If they can keep growing through the season, we should be standing in a pretty good place at the end of the season. They play together well. It’s like they trust each other. They back each other up.”

The Lady Hornets backed each other up following a three-match losing streak at the end of a tough seven-match tournament Sept. 20-21. They responded by winning their next two matches – region victories against Lexington and North Augusta – in sweeps.

“We had a little rough patch in the tournament, but other than that we’ve been good,” senior hitter Anna Tovo said. “We were able to overcome that obstacle. We’re working hard and trying to get to our overall goal.”

Tovo has been a key for Aiken this season, recording 285 kills and 252 digs in 31 matches. She has a 32 percent kill rate while averaging nearly 10 kills per match. Young said Tovo has taken on a leadership role as a senior.

Emily Teelon is the more vocal leader for Aiken. Combine her skills and leadership with Tovo’s talent, and Aiken is confident in making a deep run in the playoffs.

“They don’t want to lose,” Young said. “They have their sights set on getting back to state. They’re not jumping ahead by any means. They believe in themselves enough to know they are capable, and they are.

“They’re a team that plays well because they love playing volleyball.”

BACK AGAIN: A year after blowing a state record out of the water, North Augusta swimmer Nicole Fuller will have one final shot to enter the South Carolina record books.

Fuller won the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events at the Region 5-AAAA meet on Saturday, leading the North Augusta girls to a first-place finish.

North Augusta will compete in the Class AAAA State Championship on Saturday at the USC Natatorium in Columbia.

The senior won two individual state championship events in 2012 in the same freestyle competitions, including setting a state record in the 500-yard freestyle by more than three seconds.

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