Buchholz battles past improved Gainesville

Gainesville sophomore Kaelyn Nash (15) taps the ball over a pair of Buchholz defenders during the Hurricanes' 3-1 home loss on Tuesday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.

Ever since falling to Niceville in the pool portion of the Gator Town Classic on their gym floor nearly a month ago, the Buchholz Bobcats have been on a roll in volleyball.

The streak continued Tuesday night inside The Purple Palace at Gainesville High with a 3-1 victory, their 11th straight win, although the Hurricanes didn't go away easily.

Behind outstanding play from sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Kaelyn Nash, Gainesville, down 0-2 after losses of 25-18 and 25-15, dominated the third set (25-14) and pushed the Bobcats in set four. But too many unforced errors put Buchholz at match point, and a Julie Fuchs' kill, one of her 13 for the match, ended it at 25-22.

The victory improved the Bobcats to 12-3 on the season while the Hurricanes, who have battled through injuries, dropped to 6-7.

“It has been a well-earned 12-3, going five with (Neptune Beach) Fletcher, who has a very good team this year in our district and going five with a real good Forest team from Ocala,” said first-year Buchholz coach Jacque Robinson-Huggins. “And that was in the same week. And we went four with a very good GHS team. Credit Eddie Maynard, they are much better than the first time we played them (a 3-0 sweep). They were a very good team tonight.”

Especially Nash, who at 6-foot-1 finished with 18 kills, three blocks, four aces and three digs. Fuchs also had nine digs, four blocks and two aces to lead the Bobcats.

“We had so many hitting errors in that fourth set that killed us,” Maynard said. “We were playing all right, it was just our hitting errors. That fourth set was so close, if we had taken that, we would have stole all the momentum with game three and game four.

“When people look at her (Nash), you forget how young she is. She is only going to get that much better because she has two more years. She is an amazing talent. She works hard and with those physical gifts, she is tough to handle.”

Nash scored the final six points for GHS in the third set, getting a pair of kills, a pair of blocks and a pair of tip-ins.

“She had another great night tonight, she can hit at any set that is given,” Robinson-Huggins said. “It was a big task for us to stop her. I think we handled it well.”

The Bobcats, who will host Fleming Island on Thursday, have matches with St. Francis and P.K. Yonge ahead of them, plus a late-season tournament in Orlando and the district tournament.

“Our work is not done by any means,” Robinson-Huggins said. “We are happy with the first part of our season. We have gotten better with each practice and each match. We still have a lot of season to play with a lot of tough opponents. We are looking forward to it.”

Maynard, whose teams generally peak toward the end of the season, feels confident in a similar result once Kelsey Watts — who finished with 20 service points, two aces and nine digs — becomes healthier. The senior has been battling a high-ankle sprain all season. Setter Alex Fischer had 33 assists, 15 service points and two aces for the 'Canes.

“We are starting to play well,” said Maynard, whose team hosts Orange Park on Thursday. “If we start to get Kelsey Watts a little more healthier ... she is starting to play a little bit more. As soon as we get her back toward the end of the month, we will be ready for districts.”

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