Blue Wave sweep Raiders for title


Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 11:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 11:05 p.m.

For the Santa Fe volleyball team, the third time was not much of a charm.

The Raiders, just as they had in the two regular-season matchups, played the top-ranked Blue Wave tough in Thursday's District 5-4A championship in a packed Santa Fe gym, but the outcome was another 3-0 defeat at the hands of the state's top-ranked squad.

“We knew it would be tough,” P. K. Yonge coach Chad Davis said. “Anytime you play a quality team such as Santa Fe three times and are able to beat them, it's big.”

To no surprise, the Blue Wave (26-1), who won by scores of 25-20, 25-18, 25-18, were led by sophomore outside hitter Jac'cara Walker. She had a double-double with a match-high 19 kills and 12 digs and added nine service points.

But they won with balance, getting solid efforts across the board from sophomores Gabby O'Connell (13 kills) and Sammy Mueller (23 assists, seven service points), junior Courtney Chappell (nine service points), senior Kayla Simmons (17 assists) and eighth-grader Eboni Harris (four blocks).

The Raiders (16-11) were paced by junior outside hitter Whitney Drost (15 kills, six digs, six service points) and sophomore middle Megan Irish (15 service points, seven kills, two blocks). Sophomore Haley MacCallum had 16 assists, eight digs and six service points, while sophomore Caitlin Lander added six digs and six service points.

“I was very proud of them,” Santa Fe coach Michelle Faulk said. “They really came out with fire in their play, good attitudes and didn't lay down at all. They played their hearts out.

“I just think there were a few moments where we made some unforced errors on our side that really kind of shot our momentum. Against a great team like that, you can't do that.”

Santa Fe rallied from a 20-11 deficit in the opening set to pull within 23-20 on a block by Irish, but back-to-back kills by Walker ended the comeback.

Undaunted, the Raiders took the lead in set two and were up 10-7 before the Wave fought back behind the play of Walker and O'Connell, the latter of whom had five kills during the comeback, to take a 21-14 lead and went on to close out the set and take a 2-0 lead.

Smelling victory, P. K. Yonge led wire-to-wire in set three, building a 23-14 edge before Santa Fe made one last ditch stand, scoring four straight points to pull within 23-18 before succumbing.

“We're very excited,” Davis said. “This was one of our goals, and obviously to be able to play at home in the playoffs is going to be a big deal.”

The Blue Wave will host the loser of tonight's District 6-4A tournament final between Ocala Trinity Catholic and The Villages in regional quarterfinal action Wednesday, while the Raiders will travel to play the winner.

The winners of those two matches will meet in the regional semifinals Nov. 5, so there is a chance for a fourth PKY-Santa Fe meeting.

“They're a very good team, very well-coached, and hats off to 'em,” Faulk said. “But I hope to meet them again.”

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