THA, JPII battle in a 5-set, SCISA thriller

  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Junior Ivy Bryan prepares to serve. Bryan is one of THA’s captains this year.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - THA’s Jana Christian gets ready to pass the ball over the net.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Christian attempts to spike the ball.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Bailey Berger sets the ball for Bryan.

The rivalry between Jasper County’s SCISA schools — Thomas Heyward Academy and John Paul II — grew in intensity last Thursday night after the JPII Golden Warriors beat the host Rebels 3-2 in volleyball.

The Golden Warriors took control early, winning the first set 25-20 and the second, 25-15. After jumping out into large lead in the third set, THA rallied and won 26-24 and won the fourth set 25-21, forcing the match to the deciding fifth set, which John Paul won 15-10.

“I think we came out flat at first, but I’ve been saying from the get-go that these girls are scrappy,” said THA coach Trish Bryan. “They’re going to have to make the plays when they’re down and when their backs are against the wall. They just came out, made plays, and came back — which is what I knew they could do from the beginning of the season.”

The Rebels (1-2 overall and 0-1 in region), have seen both new players, like Brooklyn Guardino and Gracie Wade, and veterans like Ivy Bryan and Jana Christian, step up into leadership roles. THA lost four seniors from last year, three of which were captains.

“She’s (Guardino) come out, she’s in her first year on varsity, and I’m just really proud of her. She’s not timid, she works hard every set, and she’s been doing great for us this year,” said Bryan.

The Rebels still have some growing pains to conquer though. Bryan says the team’s play mimics their emotions: when they’re frustrated or upset, their play suffers. When they’re pumped up and enthused they play at a higher level.

“We do not give up until the last serve,” Bryan said.

The Rebels left the game frustrated, but the Golden Warriors were vindicated.

Last season, THA swept the region series against JPII, wining the first matchup 2-0 and the second 3-0. JPII finished last season 11-18 overall and 2-9 in SCISA Region IV-A.

But the Golden Warriors began this season 7-5-1 overall and 1-1 in the region.

“We’ve come to play more together as a team, we didn’t lose too many players from last year,” said JPII coach Kelsey Fink. “I think our hitters have meshed better with our setters to get bigger kills versus easier hits over the net. We’re able to put the ball down when we’re in ‘need to’ situations.”

But like the Rebels, the Golden Warriors are young and have their own growing pains to work through.

After jumping to a 2-0 lead, the Golden Warriors struggled with their hitting and back-to-front passing, forcing them into easy pass-over situations.

Fink, who didn’t call a timeout in the first two sets, called three timeouts in the last three sets, all to tell her team to focus on their passes.

The Golden Warriors, led by senior Abigail Barker, will face region foe St. Andrew’s on Thursday, Sept. 7 at JPII.

THA hosts Holly Hill Monday, Sept. 11.

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Breakout Box: 

John Paul II Stats

Kills Aces Digs Blocks Assists

Abigail Barker 10 3 10 — —

Marissa Majorkiewicz 7 4 6 — —

Jasmine Hamilton 7 2 10 1 asst —

Ayannah Thompson 5 — — 1 solo, 2 asst —

Darby O’Donnell — 8 — — 27

Mary Foster Gaillard — — 10 1 asst —

Alena Salazar — — 16 — —

T.H. Academy Stats

Kills Aces Digs Blocks Assists

Ivy Bryan 19 2 8 — —

Emma Richardson 5 1 12 — —

Jana Christian 5 5 7 — —

Victoria Standard 1 — — — 14

Gracie Wade — — 8 — —

Bailey Brown — 5 — — 15

Brooklyn Guardino 3 1 — — —

Thomas Heyward Academy Stats
Ivy Bryan1928
Emma Richardson5112
Jana Christian557
Victoria Standard114
Gracie Wade8
Bailey Brown5 15
Brooklyn Guardino31