Lafayette will play for state volleyball championship in Class 1A


Lafayette libero Lydia Land (11) gets one of her 36 digs while defensive specialist Sydney Shows provides cover in a Class 1A state semifinal match, which the Lady Hornets won 3-0 over the Baker High Bulldogs at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Jack Howdeshell)

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:21 p.m.

KISSIMMEE — For the second straight season, the Lafayette Hornets will be playing for the Class 1A state volleyball title.

Lindsay O'Steen had 31 kills, Kaleigh Law dished out 52 assists and Lydia Land added 36 digs as the Hornets swept Baker — 25-17, 29-27, 25-21 — on Thursday to advance to today's championship match against Liberty County at the Silver Spurs Arena.

It marked the second straight year that the Hornets (24-0) posted a 3-0 win over the Gators, the team they defeated for the state title in 2011. The victory extended Lafayette's winning streak to 44 matches and puts the Hornets in position to capture back-to-back state titles.

“They fought hard,” said Hornets coach Sonya Land. “The second game I felt we got out of rhythm a little bit, sort of lost focus and were missing some serves. We weren't playing our game. We overcame that and they came through.”

After winning the first set fairly convincingly, Lafayette fought off four set points by Baker (22-3) in the second set to pull out an incredible 29-27 win. The set was tight throughout, but each time the Gators served for the set (at 24-23, 25-24, 26-25, 27-26) the Hornets responded with kills from O'Steen, Bailey Edwards and Ellen Lashley.

It was Lashley who ended it with back-to-back kills.

“It was really nerve-wrecking because the first spike that I hit I didn't call for the ball,” said Lashley, who finished with 13 kills. “It just kind of went over. The second hit I felt a lot of pressure was on me, but went with it. It felt really nice.”

Lydia Land said the team never lost hope it could pull out the second set.

“I was really nervous, and I think I speak for everyone,” she said. “We just pulled together as a team and knew the game wasn't over because it was too early. We still had a lot on them, and we had to get our momentum back. Once we did, we pulled through.”

After a putback score from Lashley, the Hornets had a 15-9 lead in the third. But Baker rallied, outscoring Lafayette 9-3 during a run to tie it at 18. With the game tied at 21, the Hornets scored the final four points, three on kills from O'Steen, including at match point.

“I had to thank Kaleigh because without her assists, I couldn't kill it,” O'Steen said. “A lot of the times I went to spike, they were covering it up really well and they were blocking me sometimes. I was trying to mix it up with tips and spikes.”

Baker coach Tomikko Parks showed high praise for O'Steen.

“She is a very talented player, one of the best players we have faced all season,” Parks said.

Liberty County (23-2) topped Pierson Taylor in four sets in the other semifinal to reach its first state final, which will be played today at 6:05 p.m.

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