Ocala Forest sweeps Santa Fe

Published: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
ALACHUA - The Santa Fe High School volleyball team was on a roll entering this weekend's Lady Raider Invitational Tournament.
Coming off of a tournament win at Gulf Coast Community College where it dominated the competition and never lost a game, Santa Fe, Class 4A's fifth-ranked team, was ready for another strong showing.
So was Ocala Forest. The Wildcats found themselves ranked similarly in Class 5A. A win in this 29th annual tournament would mean a jump in the poll and bragging rights until the two teams meet again in October.
In the end, the Wildcats would notch their first win in the tournament's history. After two second-place finishes in recent years, Forest swept Santa Fe 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 in the final match of the weekend.
Forest (16-3) made its way to the championship round by cruising past Dixie County and Eastside. Santa Fe (15-5) defeated St. Francis and Crystal River to reach the finals.
After exchanging points for much of the first game, Forest jumped out to a 21-10 lead against Santa Fe after a 10-point run led by Michela Munroe (10 service points, two aces, eight blocks). A late four-point Santa Fe run brought the game to 21-14, a lead that would eventually be cut to six, but never any closer, as Forest sprinted out to a one-game lead.
The Raiders jumped out to an early 10-6 second-game lead until once again succumbing to a seven-point Forest run. The spurt was led by all-tournament selection Bethany Hansen (5 aces, 2 kills, 1 block), who added three straight service points, including two aces, to give the Wildcats the lead, and a second-game win.
The third game saw Forest hold off a late Raider run to claim the tournament's title.
With Forest leading 23-17 late, Santa Fe charged into a four-point run that threatened to bring the match into a fourth game. A service error eventually led to the run-breaking score, and the ensuing match point ended the day for the home team. Despite no large scoring runs, the Wildcats held the third game lead after taking over 4-3.
The Raiders were led by all-tournament selection Leah Leventhal (7 service points, 2 aces, 11 kills, 4 digs, 1 block), who provided the clutch serves on Santa Fe's late third-game run. Also making the all-tournament team for Santa Fe was Hannah Harber, Ashley Rosenboom and Sydney Wilkerson.
Raider coach Michele Faulk found some things in her team that pleased her despite the loss.
"This is a match that will make the team grow," she said. "We tried out some new things today, and it kind of flustered the team. They kept battling though, and they kept it close."
Forest coach Steven Siddell acknowledged that if not for his team's point runs, the game could have gone either way.
"Santa Fe is a team that is equal to us," he said. "Today's game was about a few breaks. We jumped out to a few runs and made it hard for them to get back in."
Indeed it was the scoring runs that made a difference. For the three-game match, there were 11 lead changes that all came before Forest runs that eventually ended the match.
"There were a lot of service errors," Faulk said, "a lot more than I'd like to see. But we'll regroup and refocus and be ready to play them again next month."
Faulk's team is playing with a lot of fresh faces after graduating five seniors from last year's 4-A finalist team.
"We're really coming together as a team," she said. "But Forest is a solid, well coached team. It was great to play them."

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