Iron Horses close out volleyball season 7-3 in region

Hanahan and BE could meet in Lower State showdown

The Philip Simmons High School volleyball team’s trip to Turbeville to play East Clarendon on Monday night was longer than expected. The trip, which usually takes one hour and 45 minutes, lasted 2 ½ hours due to an overturned flatbed truck.

Once there, the Iron Horses experienced a long night in the second round of the Class AA playoffs. East Clarendon swept the Iron Horses 3-0.

It wasn’t the way coach Jay Watterworth wanted the season to end. The inexperience and youthfulness of his team was evident. But on the bus ride home, he had plenty of time to reflect on the Iron Horses’ season. The team, in its second year of existence, went from 10-12 last year to 17-9 this fall, including 7-3 in Region 6-AA, which was good for second place.

“I’m extremely proud of this team for what they accomplished,” Watterworth said. “They battled all the time and never quit. Like I told them after the match, no one else has everyone coming back for the next two years.

There were 11 players on the 2018 roster including one junior, five sophomores, four freshmen and an eighth-grader. The junior is a foreign exchange student who will return home after the academic year. Watterworth has a strong junior varsity program, so the team should only get better.

Monday, the Iron Horses got off to a good start against the Wolverines, taking a 16-9 lead in the first set.

In that first set, we had a lot of momentum,” Watterworth said. “But we faltered and the youth and inexperience came out. The moment overwhelmed us. I challenged the girls in the third set, and I was happy the way they responded.”

Having a young team provides a challenge for any coach, and Watterworth is no exception.

“It’s difficult at times, trying to find the right balance,” he said. “There are times you have to push them and there are other times when you have to pull back and be patient. It’s a learning experience for everyone.”

Three Iron Horse players made all region: eighth-grader Emma Ethridge, freshman Julia Wood and sophomore Emma Gregory.

Oceanside Collegiate Academy won the region with a 10-0 record and is the team to beat in 2019, Watterworth said.

“They are in a class of their own,” Watterworth said. “Our goal will be to finish second and reach at least the second round of the playoffs. Maybe then, we can change our circumstances.”

Meanwhile, in Class AAA volleyball, Hanahan and Bishop England both won first-round matches and could meet in the Lower State championship, which will be held Nov. 5.

The two teams played on Oct. 18, and the Hawks shocked the Bishops with a 3-2 decision at Hanahan. The Hawks dropped the first two sets, but rallied to win the next three and stun Bishop England, which has won 18 straight state titles.

It was the Hawks’ first victory against Bishop England, and the winning point was captured on video and is on the Hanahan Facebook page. It had 3,979 views as of Monday night.

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