BE volleyball team is working hard to repeat as state champions
It’s a rite of autumn. For 15 consecutive years, the Bishop England volleyball team has been dynamic; a dynasty that also is a work in progress. The Bishops are the reigning state champs in Class AA and have some final tune-ups before making another playoff run.
The Bishops have been state champs for so long that you have to go back to the last century to find a team other than BE that wore the crown. Chapin beat Gilbert in the 1999 state championship. Since then, it’s been all BE, which holds national record with 15 straight state titles and 25 overall.
Coach Cindy Baggott, who has coached the Bishops to seven of the state championships, doesn’t go out of her way to talk about the titles. But the team knows of the program’s sterling reputation.
“When the season starts, we focus on the season at hand,” Baggott said. “I really don’t sit down and talk to the team about the streak. But they are aware of it. They know it’s their turn to step up.”
The Bishops have fared well, playing a brutal schedule that includes the state’s heavyweights. The Bishops have lost four matches this fall, dropping decisions to Wando (twice), St. Joseph’s and Porter-Gaud.
Wando is the defending Class AAAA champ, while St. Joseph’s won the Class A title. Porter-Gaud is the defending state champ in SCISA.
The Bishops have competed in tournaments at Porter-Gaud, Sumter and Dorman, which hosts the prestigious Tournament of Champions. The Bishops last major tune-up will be next weekend’s tourney at Wando.
While the state titles unite the BE volleyball program, each team is different offering a different style of play and chemistry. Last year, there were no seniors on the roster. This year, their eight seniors seeking another state title.
They include Eliza Willburger, Molly Park, Victoria Boals, Jordan Hollingsworth, Montana Swanson, Ashley Brazell, Maddie Wood and Ashley Burns.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have coached,” Baggott said. “After the final drills at the end of practice, they are always saying ‘One more. One more.’ They never want to quit. They are constantly looking for ways to get better. It’s the little things that make a difference.”
Swanson, one of eight seniors, was named a 2014 Maxpreps Small Schools All-American third-team selection. Swanson tallied 407 total kills last season – good enough for fifth in the state. She also tallied 370 digs.
Baggott said the Bishops’ top competition in the Lower State will come from Academic Magnet and Waccamaw. Liberty and North Central pose threats in the Upper State.
The team has faced better competition during the regular season with matches against three reigning state champs.
“We go to the big tournaments to prepare, to get ready,” Baggott said. “That gives you exposure to the better teams, teams that play at a higher level.”
The state playoffs commence Oct. 28 and conclude with the state championships, which are scheduled for Nov. 7 at White Knoll High School.