Winning multiple state championships in consecutive seasons is not a new concept for the Shady Spring volleyball team.
The Tigers won three in a row starting in 1992 before winning back-to back titles from 2002-03.
After dominating sectional and regional play again this year, Shady Spring is now three wins away from another back-to-back title run.
The defending Class AA champions start that quest Friday morning against Frankfort. The match will start approximately 30 minutes after the first morning match between Winfield and Oak Glen which starts at 8:30 a.m.
While Shady (40-3-1) will be a heavy favorite in its matches, head coach Kelly Williams is keeping her team in the mode of the hunter.
“You can never take anything for granted and every day there is something that we need to work on. We can always get better,” Williams said. “I think what we have tried to instill in the girls in the last week is, regardless if you are No. 1 or No. 8, you can’t take a team for granted and you have to show up and give 100 percent every day. That is something that you have to do in life as well. Hopefully they take that to heart.”
Although it comes really as no surprise that Shady Spring is back at the state tournament, it could have gone differently. An early season injury to all-state middle hitter Meg Williams, the coaches daughter, left her status up in the air for the remainder of the season.
“Meg’s injury was huge and the girls responded beautifully. They, in my mind, came together more and everyone did their part to get us where we are today,” Williams said. “Meg coming back is a bonus, of course, but to see how the girls responded during that time and how they all came together was great.”
“Braylie (Wiseman) came up huge when Meg was out and she flourished. It was great to see her get better. Rachel (Mann) and Haley Sweeney were very instrumental in wins that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Meg Williams was able to return just before the midway point of the season to add more firepower and she collected 273 kills in 65 sets played.
Chloe Thompson leads the team in kills with 437 followed by Peydon Smith with 226 blasts.
As a team, the Tigers are average over 13 kills per set with Thompson and Williams having an incredible 50 percent hitting percentage.
Smith leads the team in aces with 85 and Camille Testerman has recorded 70 nonreturnable serves.
The quarterback for Shady Spring is Kelsie Dangerfield with 916 assists, but she also has 179 kills on the season.
Last year, each volleyball class was played all on the same day due to Covid restrictions. This year the tournament format is back to normal with three matches going at one time on the floor of the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
“Last year was different, so we are super excited about going back to what normal used to be. We are excited about the little things like team bonding and having dinner together,” Williams said. “We are looking forward to seeing all the other teams play together on the court. I am sure we will have some nerves because of that, but it does help that we have been there before.”
If Shady Spring defeats Frankfort in match one, the Tigers will play the winner of Oak Glen and Winfield at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
The Class AA state championship match will be played Saturday following the Class A match that starts at 9:30 a.m.