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Holly Hill Academy High School


Holly Hill Academy volleyball team showing improvment

By David Shelton
Senior Writer

Holly Hill – Back for his second stint as a coach at Holly Hill Academy, Michael Nelson is finding things have changed since he left for a job at Orangeburg Prep three years ago.
Nelson, who spent five years at Holly Hill before leaving for Orangeburg Prep, is back as the school’s athletic director. In addition, he is coaching the volleyball team this fall and will be back on the sidelines during basketball season and will return as baseball coach in the spring.
Nelson’s volleyball team is quite young this season but is in contention for a SCISA Class A playoff spot. The Raiders are 8-3 on the season as of October 2nd. The volleyball program lost five seniors off last year’s team and this year’s team has just one senior with any playing experience.
“We’re pretty young across the board in our athletic department overall,” Nelson said. “As far as volleyball, we started with very little varsity experience. We are still trying to put it all together and become a more cohesive unit on the floor. We’re playing well enough to beat some teams but I would like to see us make a jump and compete with the top teams in our region. We are headed that way but we still need to improve. We haven’t played enough to gel on the court like we need to. We’re going through the growing pains right now.”
Rightside Hannah Swank is the only senior this season with playing experience. The other senior, Nidhi Patel, is coming off the bench.
Swank and junior middle Hannah Mott are the only upperclassmen on the floor in most rotations. Sophomore Brooke Fennessey saw playing time as a freshman and works on the outside. Sophomore Halle Mott also is an outside hitter while sophomore Lily McWaters is the libero.
Freshman Erin Pratt shows potential as a 5-10 middle hitter. Eighth-grader Karsyn Smoak is the starting setter and eighth-grader Laura Grace Atkinson works on the right side and is a defensive specialist. Another eighth-grader, Julianna Grooms, is a back row player.
Nelson says Class A volleyball, especially in their own region, is much better overall than he remembers from several years ago. Colleton Prep and Patrick Henry currently pace the league at the top. Holly Hill and Dorchester are battling for third place.
“It’s a good region, probably the best Class A region in SCISA,” the coach said. “We’ve lost twice to Colleton and once to Patrick Henry. We’re looking to finish strong and maybe be in the top three. We would like to be in the playoffs. That experience would be good for such a young team.”


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