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Sports Notebook: SEHS volleyball gives Saints a tough time
Riley Stringer
South Effingham's Riley Stringer (14) looks to set up teammate Clara Vorel for a kill during a match against Liberty County on Aug.17. The Mustangs split matches on the day, defeating the Panthers 2-0 before falling to St. Vincent's 2-0. (Donald Heath/Special for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SAVANNAH – Upward trending volleyball teams seem to share a common theme – they beat the teams they're supposed to beat and play upper-echelon opponents competitively.

That's what South Effingham did in its non-region, three-team round robin at St. Vincent's Academy Aug. 17.

The Mustangs topped Liberty County convincingly and gave the undefeated Saints a scare before falling short and breaking even on the day.

"I don't really (believe in) moral victories but you can learn a lot from playing a good team," said SEHS coach Heywood Ellison after the 2-0 (27-25, 25-12) loss to SVA, a squad that advanced to the Elite Eight of the Class 3A state tournament last season.

The entertaining first set had 14 ties and six lead changes. Behind the setting of Riley Stringer and hitting of Clara Vorel, South (2-2) stayed within striking distance.

A 10-3 Mustang run erased a three-point deficit and Lexi Gipson's kill provided a 21-17 advantage.

South led 23-21 in the race to 25, but the Saints marched back and tied the match and finally tamed the Mustangs on their third set point.

St. Vincent's (4-0) bolted out to a 9-0 lead in the second set and South never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

But SEHS' competitive play was an encouraging sign for the future. Just two years ago, the Mustangs won only four games. Last year, they bettered .500 with a 20-18 record.

"We're young, but St.Vincent's is young too," Ellison said. "They know where they're supposed to be and where they should put the ball and that's where we're trying to get – knowing where you're supposed to be at all times.

"I think we learned when we scrap, we can play with any team and we have a scrappy team. Now we have to turn that scrap into offense."

The Mustangs had little problem finding offense in a 2-0 (25-4, 25-10) warmup against Liberty County. Anna Kate Taylor reeled off nine straight service points in the first set, turning a 4-2 lead into 13-2.

SEHS opened the season two days earlier with a split – losing to Richmond Hill (a 39-win team in 2022) and defeating Statesboro (a 24-win team in 2022 that went to the Elite Eight at State in Class 5A).

"We schedule these (good) teams for a reason," Ellison said. "We want to be better down the line."


ECHS falls to local elite teams

Last week, Effingham County's volleyball team lost to St. Vincent's, Richmond Hill, and Savannah Christian – three top Coastal Empire teams.

But like South's play against St. Vincent's, there were encouraging signs for the defending region champions, who played without leading outside hitter Murphy Boyett.

ECHS extended Richmond Hill in the first set 27-25 and dropped the second set 25-22 and took a set from Savannah Christian.

Junior Bella Teston had 10 kills in the two matches.

The Rebels hosted South Effingham (non-region) and Glynn Academy (region) on Aug. 22. ECHS defeated Glynn for the region tournament championship last season. The Rebels have won the last five matches against the Mustangs.


SEHS raised record to 7-2


South Effingham won 5-of-6 games during the week, including a three-game sweep of region opponent Evans.

Senior pitcher Bailey Kendziorski starred with three shutout victories, two against Evans and one against Toombs County. She now 5-0 and has not allowed an earned run in 23 innings while striking out 44.

Kendziorski also had two hits, a home run, and drove in four runs in a 7-2 victory over Savannah Christian.

Izzy Wilkins registered two one-hit shutout wins. Whitney Thompson went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and three runs batted in the series-opening 11-0 win against Evans.

Freshman Danni Lynn had two hits and a homer and four RBIs in the 13-0 Game 2 win over Evans and Lynn had two doubles and drove in two in the 8-0 Game 3 victory.

South's lone loss was 4-3 to Harlem on Saturday.


ECHS sweeps DH from Lakeside

Effingham County picked two region victories with 7-0 and 9-0 shutouts over Lakeside, Evans on Aug. 17.

The Rebels (3-1, 2-0 Region 2-6A) have now outscored their opponents 28-3.

ECHS has a key three-game region series with Grovetown, starting at home on Aug. 22, before traveling to Grovetown for a doubleheader on Aug. 24.

The Rebels finished second in the region last season. Grovetown was third.