High School Athletes of the Week
Walker helps Blue Wave pull off shocking win in Tampa
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 2, 2013 at 11:18 p.m.
With only one senior on the roster, a young P.K. Yonge team pulled the biggest volleyball shocker in the state when it went to Tampa last week and upset nationally ranked Berkeley Prep on its home court.
Sophomore outside hitter Jac'cara Walker had a huge hand in the outcome, delivering the final two points via monster kills, two of her 21 for the match, as the Blue Wave pulled out a 3-2 victory. P.K. Yonge overcame a 2-1 deficit, winning the final two games, 25-23, 15-13.
“Jac'cara had an incredible club season and we knew about her attacking ability,” said P.K. Yonge first-year coach Chad Davis.
“Jac'cara is the best outside hitter in the area, one of the best in the state. She had only three errors against Berkeley, which is incredible.”
The Buccaneers came into the season ranked No. 25 in the nation by MaxPreps with five returning senior starters from last year's Class 4A state runner-up team, led by Stanford-bound Sidney Brown, the Tampa Tribune's 2012 Player of the Year. One of the most storied volleyball programs in the state, Berkeley Prep has won 15 state titles and has played in 23 of the last 37 state tournaments.
All that didn't matter to the Blue Wave last Wednesday.
“It was a pretty big step for these guys,” Davis said.
“This is why we pushed them so hard in the preseason. To get them (Berkeley Prep) early is great for our program. For their confidence level, it has been a huge boost.”
With the transfer of former Player of the Year Jordyn Saulsberry to Ocala Trinity Catholic, many wondered how strong P.K. Yonge would be along the net without her.
Walker, a Blue Wave team captain along with senior setter Kayla Simmons, has stepped up her game.
“It helps having two excellent setters in Kayla Simmons and Sammy Mueller getting her the ball,” Davis said.
In its three victories last week, Walker totaled 47 kills, 22 service aces, four blocks and 25 digs.
The Blue Wave play at Buchholz on Wednesday with an upcoming match at St. Francis looming on Sept. 11.
“That St. Francis game will probably be the biggest game in the city this year,” Davis said. “We are playing a very tough schedule, because that is the kind of competition you will face at the state tournament. We want to make a serious run at the state title.”
Lonnie Underwood, Columbia: The junior running back ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns as the Class 6A No. 7 Tigers rolled to a dominating 49-7 win over No. 5 Gainesville.
Kelsey Harris, Newberry: The junior outside hitter had 53 kills, 32 service points, 18 digs and 16 aces as the Panthers went 3-0 in the first week of the season. Harris had 26 kills in Newberry's 3-0 win over defending 1A state champion Lafayette in Mayo, snapping the Hornets' 43-match win streak.
Brittney Olinger, Oak Hall: The senior ran 19:32 to finish second and lead the Eagles to the girls title at the Bob Hans Invitational on Saturday at Orange Park Ridgeview High.
Nick Jones, Columbia: The senior was medalist in both the Tigers' wins over Suwannee and Buchholz, shooting a 36 over nine holes in both matches.
Monte Seabrook, Newberry: The senior defensive back/wide receiver had 3 1/2 tackles, an interception return for 86 yards, a 51-yard touchdown run and two receptions for 80 yards and a TD in a 29-14 win over Santa Fe.
Austin Ritchey, Bell: The senior running back ran for 247 yards on 28 carries and scored four touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 52-40 win over Tampa Cambridge Christian. He also had one reception for 20 yards.
Kendell Copeland, Dixie County: The senior ran for 164 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown in the Bears' 22-7 win over Taylor County. As a defensive back, Copeland also had three tackles and two pass breakups.
Brad Cates, Bronson: The senior fullback ran for 181 yards on 21 carries and scored three touchdowns in the Eagles' 52-6 season-opening win over Ocala Christian Academy.
Greg Days, Williston: The 6-foot-3, 345-pound sophomore offensive tackle graded out 92 percent and had five pancake blocks in the Red Devils' 38-7 win over P.K. Yonge.
Tray Presley, Santa Fe: The senior running back scored both of the Raiders' touchdowns, returning two kickoffs for scores in the Raiders' 29-14 loss to Newberry in the season-opener for both teams. Presley had touchdown returns of 99 and 95 yards.
Lee Washington, Santa Fe: The senior linebacker had eight tackles, four solo, and a pass breakup for the Raiders in a loss to Newberry.
Brad Pita, Oak Hall: The senior receiver had seven catches for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles' 46-25 loss to Florida School for the Deaf. He also had six tackles on defense.
Jamal Barnes, P.K. Yonge: The junior linebacker had 11 tackles, two for loss, and one sack in a loss at Williston.
Isabella Whelan, Buchholz: The sophomore ran a 20:20 as the individual girls winner Saturday at the Spikes and Spurs Classic at the Flagler County Fairgrounds in Bunnell.
Drew Monteau, Buchholz: The senior ran a personal-best 17:14 to finish eighth at the Spikes and Spurs Classic.
Austin Perry, Oak Hall: The junior ran 19:40 to place 19th at the Bob Hans Invitational.
Jennifer Rosado, Gainesville: The junior middle blocker had 10 kills and six blocks in a three-set win over The Villages.
Gaby Amos, Buchholz: The junior shot a 42 over 9 holes in a win over Columbia.
Tyler Allen, Buchholz: The senior shot a 38 against Keystone Heights and Santa Fe and a 37 against Columbia.
Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Monday between 12-4 p.m.