John Paul II eliminates Cornerstone again


John Paul II Panthers players celebrate a point against the Cornerstone Cougars on Saturday at Westside Baptist Family Life Center.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 1:39 a.m.

Cornerstone Academy has only been a member of the FHSAA for two years, and for the second straight volleyball season, the Cougars faced Tallahassee John Paul II with a trip to the state tournament on the line.

Facts

Regional finals

Class 7A, Region 1
Buchholz def. Orange City University, 3-1
*Up next: Buchholz faces Venice in Tuesday's state semifinals at 2 p.m.
Class 4A, Region 2
Orlando Bishop Moore def. Santa Fe, 3-0
Class 3A, Region 1
St. Francis def. Tallahassee Maclay, 3-0
*Up next: St. Francis faces Clearwater Central Catholic in Friday's state semifinals at 10 a.m.
Class 2A, Region 1
Tallahassee John Paul II def. Cornerstone Academy, 3-2
Class 1A, Region 3
Lafayette def. Bell, 3-0
*Up next: Lafayette plays Baker in Thursday's state semifinals at 2 p.m.
* State tournament will be held at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee

And for the second straight season, the Cougars will stay home and the Panthers will be heading to Kissimmee.

John Paul II rallied to pull out a five-set victory over Cornerstone — 16-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 15-9 — in the Class 2A, Region 1 final at the Family Life Center at Westside Baptist Church on Saturday. For the Panthers, it will be their third state tournament appearance in four years.

Ahead 2-1 and up 7-3 early in the fourth set, momentum was definitely on the home-standing Cougars side. But behind the relentless offense from 5-foot-11 outside hitter Jordan Bickett, who finished with 24 kills, John Paul II quickly closed the gap and after four ties, opened a 21-18 lead. Although Cornerstone battled back and averted two set points, the Panthers captured a 25-23 win on a Bickett kill.

From there, with the match tied at 2-2, it went into the 15-point fifth set, where again it started out tight, but after a 6-6 tie, John Paul II didn't trail again. The Panthers scored the last four points of the match and Bickett ended it.

“I tried to make an adjustment in our matchups with No. 8 (Bickett) and we couldn't shut her down,” said Cornerstone coach Stephanie Wyatt. “We couldn't get a block on her. It was disappointing. I was proud of the efforts of our girls. They had a great run, they worked hard. I wish John Paul II the best.”

Blair Guerry had 12 kills for Cornerstone while Bridgette Cook had seven kills and 11 digs. Standout senior Tori Mantel had seven kills, 14 digs and one block, and Madison Wyatt had 18 assists.

“Surprising, I really didn't think we were going to lose,” Mantel said. “I guess that is the way volleyball goes. It is not very pleasant.”

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