P.K. Yonge pushes win streak to 9 games


PK Yonge sophomore Gabby O'Connell (5) blocks a St. John Lutheran kill attempt during the Blue Wave's 3-0 win over the Saints on Tuesday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:48 p.m.

The way P.K. Yonge is playing volleyball these days, maybe that one loss at St. Francis two weeks ago was just what the Blue Wave needed.

Since that classic match between former district rivals, P.K. Yonge has been unstoppable, winning a prestigious tournament in Orlando, sweeping a pair of matches in Tallahassee, and soaring up the rankings as No. 1 in Class 4A according to MaxPreps and No. 44 nationally by prepvolleyball.com.

The Blue Wave pushed their current win streak to nine on Tuesday, dominating 2A Ocala St. John Lutheran at home in a three-set sweep, 25-8, 25-11, 25-14.

P.K. Yonge (15-1) never trailed in this match and its players dominated with their jump serves, particularly from senior Kayla Simmons and sophomore Jac'cara Walker, who combined for 26 service points and 13 aces.

“When we are dominant from the service line, our service pressure is pretty unbelievable,” said Blue Wave first-year coach Chad Davis. “(Walker) takes it to another level. Her, Sammy (Mueller) and Kayla too all served great. We are serving at 89.8 percent. We are trying to get it at 90, and we are serving it really hard.

“That's a good team we beat. They beat Trinity Catholic and Ocala Forest. Jason (LaBorde) is doing a good job rebuilding that program. To be able to win in such a dominating fashion is pretty impressive.”

With a good home crowd, the Blue Wave certainly put on a show, jumping to a 10-4 lead in the first set and stretching it even more after Simmons served out seven straight points, getting four aces in the process.

After a 4-4 tie in the second set, P.K. Yonge went on a 12-1 run, getting kills from sophomore Gabby O'Connell, an ace from eighth-grader Cameron Childs and kills and aces from Walker for a commanding 16-5 lead.

In the third set, after a 11-11 tie and the Blue Wave's only timeout of the match, P.K. Yonge closed it out going on a 14-3 run, ending it on a drop shot from eighth-grader Eboni Harris.

“Even though it was a great match, we were frustrated that was our worst match (against St. Francis),” Davis said. “We came to practice the next day, we weren't going to sulk on it, this wasn't going to be the old P.K. Yonge where one match ruins a season. I told them this needs to be a motivator. We had a great tournament that Friday. We have really raised our level since then.”

Walker had 13 kills and nine digs, Simmons had 12 assists and five kills, Mueller had 21 assists and five service points, and O'Connell had nine kills, six service points and 10 digs for the Blue Wave.

“One of our issues we lacked tonight was P.K. Yonge's game was a little faster than what our blockers are used to,” LaBorde said. “Our blockers not being able to set up really hurt our defense.

“The short serves, one of the things we worked on was not to get caught on our heels and that's what happened tonight with the short serves. Instead of paying attention to where the ball is going, actually paying attention to what the server is doing. That is sort of a work in progress for us.”

P.K. Yonge, which plays host to The Villages tonight, will play defending 7A state champion Venice on the road on Friday, then play at Sarasota Riverview, ranked No. 3 in 8A, on Saturday.

“It feels good, that was a good one,” Davis said. “We have been on a good roll since that loss. We played great in Orlando and beating some of those teams. We had a great trip to Tallahassee. These kids are getting amped for our trip to Venice for Friday. I think our goals are getting better match to match, game to game.

“This is going to be a big time showdown. We are trying to prepare them for that environment there. To be 15-1 with our schedule is a testament to how hard these girls are working.”

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