Lely strong: Trojans volleyball team advances to regional semifinals

Briana Anguilano of Lely High School has a ball deflected by Lemon Bay. Lely went on to beat Lemon Bay High School 3-1 Tuesday Oct. 29th. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Briana Anguilano of Lely High School has a ball deflected by Lemon Bay. Lely went on to beat Lemon Bay High School 3-1 Tuesday Oct. 29th. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Caitlin Montgomery of Lemon Bay High School spikes the ball over the net. The Trojans in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Caitlin Montgomery of Lemon Bay High School spikes the ball over the net. The Trojans in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Lely High School celebrates a victory over Lemon Bay. Lely beat in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday.(Logan Newell/Staff)

Lely High School celebrates a victory over Lemon Bay. Lely beat in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday.(Logan Newell/Staff)

Lely High School students cheering as the last point is up for grabs. Lely beat in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Lely High School students cheering as the last point is up for grabs. Lely beat in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday. (Logan Newell/Staff)

Momentum swayed back and forth between Lely and Lemon Bay in the Class 5A volleyball regional quarterfinals at Lely on Tuesday.

The Trojans caught fire at the right time to win in four sets (22-25, 27-25, 25-13, 25-16). Lely will play at Arcadia-DeSoto County in the semifinals on Nov. 5.

“This is just a great moment in my career,” first-year Trojans coach Robby Baker said. “The girls worked so hard. It wouldn’t mean anything if they were girls who didn’t care and were just handed things. These girls haven’t been handed anything; they’ve worked every minute and it shows.”

The Trojans were trapped in an early hole, down one set and struggling in a point-for-point second set. One play flipped the momentum switch to the home team.

Leading 26-25, the Trojans had to deliver the final point or risk elimination in the following set. Junior outside hitter Ashley Schnellar stepped up to deliver the Trojans’ set-winning point off a dig.

“That was the turning point,” Baker said. “If you go down 0-2 then you have to win three straight. To be able to work through that, it was almost a blessing to pull through.”

Schnellar, one of the Trojans’ clutch performers, led Lely with five aces. Sophomore Kaitlyn Ziegelmaier had 48 assists. Senior middle hitter and Lely captain Samantha Howard also delivered a solid performance with 17 kills.

Lemon Bay quickly fell apart after the devastating mental blow in the second set. The once- technically sound squad began chasing balls and falling out of position.

“You put pressure on a high school volleyball team — a one-two-three point run is gone like that,” Baker said. “That’s when you can just put on the gas and go.”

The Trojans took advantage, dominating 25-13 thanks to an 8-1 point run.

The final set reverted back to the seesaw action seen earlier in the match. However, the Trojans kept their composure with help from their first-year coach. Baker said he preached organization and aggression to put pressure on Lemon Bay.

A Lely six-point run finished off the Manta Rays.

“I’m looking forward to going out on the road and being able to battle in another intense environment,” Baker said. “We’ll be pushing the girls to the max for the next week in practice and getting them ready.”

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