St. Francis falls short of state title
Published: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.
KISSIMMEE — For much of the first set in Saturday’s Class 3A state volleyball final, St. Francis was right where it wanted to be against Orlando The First Academy — in front.
But the Royals, winners of four straight state titles, have plenty of experience on the big stage at Silver Spurs Arena.
TFA used a 10-1 rally to not only win the first set, but take the lead and never let it go, sweeping the Wolves 25-23, 25-15, 25-16 to capture its second straight 3A title and fifth straight overall.
“We felt like we needed to win the serving and passing battle in order to compete with a team of the caliber of The First Academy,” said St. Francis coach Nick Cheronis. “I give them a ton of credit. I felt our players came out about as well as we can. We executed a lot of things we were trying to do, but First Academy just had every answer. And when you get beat by a better team who is playing better than you, that sort of spells a 3-0 loss.”
A block by Allison Benton gave the Wolves a 17-9 lead in the first set. But then the Royals scored 12 of the next 13 points, most coming off service from Brittany Smith, to take a 19-18 lead. St. Francis (27-5) never led again.
“I really felt that was a huge turning point,” Cheronis said.
The second and third sets weren’t much contests as TFA (22-7) raced out to leads and got excellent play from setter Kali Funk and hitters Kennedy Wilson and Brittany Smith whenever the Wolves tried to mount a comeback.
Benton and Paige Stockman each had eight kills and Christine Sack had seven for the Wolves. Farah Rajaee and Ann Lorrayne Bzoch had 15 assists and 14 digs, respectively.
“We have done something that no one else at St. Francis has done before,” said Kathryn Herrington, one of six seniors on the St. Francis team. “All of the rest of the players have a standard that we have set now. It is their job to try to do it next year and the year after.”
Fellow senior Megan Lee said it was incredible run by Wolves.
“As a senior, it has been a privilege to play with these girls,” she said. “There were 85 teams in 3A and we made it to the final two. It has been amazing.”
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