Rams volleyball sweeps Bears

Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 12:02 a.m.

Fresh off an emotional, come-from-behind Thursday victory to win the District 6-5A championship over Belleview, the Eastside Rams volleyball team knew their momentum was headed in the right direction. Tuesday against visiting St. Johns Bartram Trail, Eastside rode that momentum into another day by defeating the Bears in three games — 25-16, 25-15, 25-20 — in the Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinals.

The Rams (15-12) now travel to St. Johns Creekside in next Tuesday's regional semifinals.

This will be Eastside's first appearance in the semifinals since 2008 when it defeated Gainesville High School 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-19) while playing in the Class 5A, Region 1 bracket. The Rams then were outdone in four sets against Tallahassee Leon in that year's regional finals.

Eastside lost in five sets last season to Harmony in the Class 4A, Region 2 quarterfinals.

“We came into this match not knowing what to expect especially after the vibe we had from last week,” Eastside first-year coach Josh Crow said.

The Rams took commanding leads in the first two games. The inside combination of setter Alex Mueller and middle blocker Courtney Iwinski proved to be no match for Bartram Trail's interior game. The Bears made things interesting by closing the score to 18-12, but the Rams took over the next 11 points with a 7-4 run.

Game two was the same story. Libero Rebecca Rosenblatt and outside hitter Lindsay Smith played mistake-free, allowing the Rams to jump ahead 7-2 and never look back. Jurnee Pettigrew hopped off the bench to clinch the second game at 25-15 when her tip landed just out of the reach of Bartram Trail middle blocker Ashland Rahn.

“After those first two games, I asked my team to not take their foot off the pedal and finish strong,” Crow said.

The coach got his wish.

In the third and final game, it was Bartram Trail that jumped ahead to a 7-4 lead. But the Bears were not able to hold on. After Eastside closed the deficit to 7-6, the Bears' Kelsey Watts had her serve bounce off the net to knot the score at 7-7 all. After exchanging points to a tie once again at 10-10, a tip by Mueller fell in front of a host of Bears to put the Rams ahead 11-10. Eastside then went on a 14-10 run led by Smith's three consecutive points and Heather Page's game-ending tip for the 25-20 win.

“I was proud of the way we handled it. We didn't give up and played consistently throughout the match,” Crow said.

“We probably played some of our best volleyball in those first two games and adjusted during the last one. It was a great all-around win.”

Bartram Trail ends its season at 13-12.

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