Planning pays off for Keystone

Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 31, 2002 at 11:01 p.m.
When Keystone Heights volleyball coach Scott Conkling planned his team's schedule, he made it extra difficult in order to toughen his players up and prepare them for the caliber of play they might expect to see during the postseason.
The result was a 13-15 regular season mark, but so far in the postseason, Conkling's strategy has been flawless, as the Indians cruised to a 15-6, 13-15 and 15-3 win against Santa Fe on Thursday to claim the District 3-3A title.
"We had a really tough schedule, and we were pretty much up and down all season," Conkling said after claiming his second district title in as many seasons with the Indians. "When we were up, we played like we did tonight, but when we were down, we lost some matches that we should have won."
Leading the way for the Indians was the senior quartet of outside hitters Ashley Gibbs and Carrie Green, middle blocker Kristin Harris and setter Carrie Arnette.
Gibbs collected 15 digs, 13 kills and 10 service points, Green had 13 digs, nine kills, eight service points and two aces, Harris tallied nine kills, four blocks and one ace and Arnette added 27 assists, six service points, three kills, two blocks and one ace.
"It (a win) was so important to me being a senior and all," Arnette said. "We've played a lot of difficult teams, and we were on some nights and off some nights, but I knew we were going to get it tonight."
The Indians (15-15) did have a little help from Santa Fe though, as 14 total service errors kept the Raiders from gaining any momentum in the match.
After quickly falling in game one, the Raiders jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in game two. With Santa Fe up 10-7, Gibbs served up six consecutive points to all but lock up the title for Keystone, before Santa Fe's Megan Hough answered with five points of her own to help the Raiders rally back for a 15-13 win.
Hough finished the night with five points, five kills and two digs, helped by senior Erin Thomas, who had 17 assists and two points, but it was enough to hold off the Indians, who rattled off 10 consecutive points to claim the title.
From here, Keystone moves on to host District 4 runner-up, Jacksonville Stanton, in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday, and a win would secure the home-court advantage for the following two rounds. Santa Fe advances as well, and will travel to meet District 4 winner, Jacksonville Bolles.
"You still have to realize that even though this game wasn't ours, we still get to move on," Santa Fe coach Michele Faulk said. "We just need to refocus and get to where we are playing a little more relaxed, and back in our game plan."
Matt Cannizzaro can be reached at (352) 374-5066 or

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