Hurricanes rout Raiders in season opener

Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 11:26 p.m.

ALACHUA — For Gainesville High, it was the perfect start to its volleyball season. For Santa Fe, it wasn't.

The visiting Class 5A Hurricanes swept the 3A Raiders 25-12, 25-18, 25-19 in the opening match of the season for both schools.

Gainesville dominated from the beginning behind the play of senior co-captains Eryn Croft and Kenyoda Esters and libero Carly Hellstrom, attacking the net and setting up perfect volleys for its frontline attacks.

Croft had a strong overall performance with 10 kills, 16 service points, five digs and five aces, while Esters had a match-high 12 kills and five service points. Hellstrom had 17 digs.

"I was really pleased with the way they played," said veteran GHS coach Cindy Boulware. "We came out really aggressive at the net, and I think that made the difference.

"We have a healthy respect for Santa Fe. They play so hard and are scrappy. We came in with an arsenal of hitters and really blocked well."

After Santa Fe closed to within 6-5 early in the first set, GHS went on a 12-3 run to seize control and never looked back. The Hurricanes opened a 6-0 lead to start the second set, all behind Croft's serves, and highlighted by consecutive kills by Esters and Erica Good. The Raiders never pulled closer than five points the rest of the way, and found themselves down 2-0 in sets.

"We just didn't come up out with any fire under us," said Santa Fe coach Michele Faulk. "We came out flat tonight. We let them go on way too many runs. We just didn't shut down their momentum when we had to. We are a much better team than what we showed tonight."

Santa Fe's only lead the entire match came early in the third set, up 3-0 on a drop shot by Lauren Schmidt. But the 'Canes answered and after a block by Croft were ahead 17-9. The Raiders never seriously threatened the rest of the match.

"I think we played really well for our first match," Croft said. "There were some nerves out there early. The chemistry on this team is amazing. We have a terrific bond between us and are good friends as well as teammates."

Tori Lovins led the Raiders with 10 kills, five digs and two aces. Allison Benton had eight kills and 12 digs.

Next for both the 'Canes and Raiders is the Gator Town Classic Friday and Saturday at Buchholz and Santa Fe high schools. GHS opens the tournament Friday against Clearwater at 4 p.m. at Santa Fe, while the co-host Raiders will face Jacksonville Bolles, a 3A state semifinalist last year, at 3 p.m.

Contact Larry Savage at 352-374-5050 or larry.savage@gvillesun.com.

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