Warriors, Griffins face off for state title on Tuesday

Spartanburg Christian Academy and Spartanburg Day would rather act like their regular-season volleyball meetings never happened going into Tuesday’s SCISA 2A state championship match.

    The county rivals will meet at 6 p.m. at the Benjamin Johnson Arena.

    The Warriors (27-4) won both meetings against the Griffins (21-7). SCA is also the two-time defending state champion and has five to its credit.

    Although the Warriors swept both matches, head coach Monica Fain said her team isn’t expecting to do so a third time.

“I think this game seems to equalize everything,” she said. “All previous matches are out. You need to look at it as even. It’s going to be loud. We’re in Spartanburg, and both teams will have a strong showing.”

First-year Spartanburg Day coach Mandy Fassett said her team is not dwelling on previous meetings against the Warriors.

“I’ve been telling them all season one of our goals is to beat SCA,” she said. “If we play our game, I feel like we can do it. They are a great team, and we are a great team, as well. I believe after the tournament we had this weekend that our girls believe it, too.”

Both teams are coming off 5-0 records at the state tournament in Sumter over the weekend. Fain feels her team is at its best coming into the title match.

“We played pretty strong all weekend,” she said. “We grew as a unit and with trust and confidence in each other. We did what we wanted to do. It was good to accomplish our goals.”

SCA is led by junior setter Tinsley Fain and senior middle hitter Kallie Hall. Fain recorded 112 kills, 50 blocks, 274 aces and 904 digs during the regular season. Hall had 139 kills and 13 blocks during the season.

    Both anticipate a tough contest.

“This happened to us before,” Tinsley Fain said. “A couple of years ago we played Richard Winn for state and had already beaten them twice. It went to five games, and if it wasn’t for a crazy play we don’t win. We know we have to play our best.”

    “We’re humbled right now,” Hall said. “We know it’s a big game and the teams are different. We watched Spartanburg Day over the weekend, and they looked different. They played really well.”

The Griffins are led by junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Ann Whitney, junior setter Zelle Richardson and senior outside/middle hitter Megan Cassidy.

    Richardson leads the team with 57 aces and 485 assists. Whitney leads with 343 digs and 203 kills, while Cassidy has 181 kills and 233 digs.

    Richardson and Whitney said the Griffins are excited about the chance to redeem themselves and win the school’s first SCISA state volleyball title.

“This is obviously my biggest match because it’s the first state championship,” Richardson said. “(SCA) is really, really good. Specifically in the state tournament we felt like we played more and more together. We need to play like we did there.”

    “I feel like the first two times we played them that we did not play our best,” Whitney said. “This weekend we showed more of what we can do.”

Both teams anticipate a large crowd.

“This is what we’ve worked for all year,” Monica Fain said. “It’s going to be a battle.”

    “This is what volleyball is all about. The crowd, the emotion and the spirit,” Fassett said. “I’m anticipating a lot of support from the Day School. I hope we have a large support system because the girls deserve it.”

- by Kevin Melton  GoUpstate.com