JENSEN BEACH — The Lely Trojans scored the first point in Saturday's Class 5A-Region 4 championship match against the Jensen Beach Falcons.
It was all downhill from there.
"At the beginning we came out really strong and that helped us," said Jensen Beach junior Meghan Conway, whose team rolled to a 25-6, 25-11, 25-11 victory. "We were just really pumped up and really excited to go to states."
Lely (16-13), which led just twice in the match, saw Jensen Beach (24-5) race out to a 17-2 advantage in the first set.
The Falcons started the second set with a 6-0 edge behind the serving of Conway and Kendall Bradley. The Trojans struggled to get into position as the Falcons powered their way to a 19-5 advantage before taking the game.
The Falcons, who reached the state semifinals in 2007, 2009 and 2011, were never tested in the match and dominated at the net.
"The start really killed us the most and it really wasn't anything they did other than keep the ball in play," Lely coach Daniel Selvey said. "That's all they needed to do. We felt like we were ready, but our serving was shaky from the start. We were kind of caught off guard and they did a good job capitalizing off of it."
Mary Gibler, Lely's all-time kills leader, had six digs and three kills. Conway collected 11 digs, eight service points, seven kills, and four blocks. Bradley had 30 assists, 13 service points, and four aces.
"One of the keys today was we pushed our offense," said Jensen Beach coach Mike Sawtelle, whose team will face either St. Johns-Bartram Trail or Hudson-Fivay on Wednesday in Kissimmee in the state semifinals.
Lely, a young team, with virtually no postseason experience, whose first time in state playoffs was a year ago, made a three-hour drive to Jensen Beach to play a team that has made it to the final 4 four out of the past five. years.
"The result is disappointing, but not terribly surprising," Selvey said. We went in feeling confident, we prepared as well as we could with the limited information we had. We started slow and never really recovered.
While Selvey said his team was excited about the possibility of making it to the final four, more than anything, the team wanted to enjoy the experience and learn from playing in the title match. Lely returns 11 players next year, including all but one starter, Gibler.
"While nothing is a given, we hope to be back in the regional final again next year," Selvey said. "And these girls will remember this game and how much work it will take to get us there."