Barron Collier, CSN, ECS, First Baptist, Fort Myers, LaBelle win district volleyball crowns
Fort Myers 3, Palmetto Ridge 0
Notre Dame commit Paris Thompson tallied 26 kills and 15 digs while New Haven commit Sophia Tabor notched 40 assists as Fort Myers (16-2) rolled to its sixth consecutive district title with a 25-10, 25-17, 25-19 sweep of Palmetto Ridge (7-8) at the Wave Cave.
“We’re trying to stay focused and be ready for our next opponent,” said Fort Myers coach Stephanie Martin, whose squad will host Charlotte, which fell to Venice in straight sets in a district final, on Wednesday in a regional quarterfinal. “We were just working on passing and our fundamentals.”
The Bears, who received got four kills and an ace from Katherine Mollberg, will travel to Venice on Wednesday.
Lehigh commit Emily Stewart added 11 kills and Davidson commit Isabelle Perry added nine kills. Reagan Rebeor turned in 20 digs.
— Adam Regan
Barron Collier 3, Naples 0
Perhaps expecting another easy win and title, the Barron Collier got a stiff challenge from a scrappy Naples High team at the start of the District 5A-12 final.
Down 14 points early in the first set, Naples roared back and got within five points late. The Cougars held on and then came to life, taking the next two sets for a championship sweep.
Barron Collier beat Naples 25-20, 25-14, 25-19 to win its 11th consecutive district title.
“It definitely was a wake up for us,” Cougars senior Skylar English said. “Toward the end we were getting into our groove, we just needed that push at the beginning.”
Barron Collier (16-0) has not lost a game all season. Playing a limited schedule because of travel restrictions imposed by coronavirus, the Cougars have only dropped six sets all year.
English, committed to FGCU, had 22 kills and 12 digs. Colleen Ziegelmaier added 9 kills, 11 digs and 16 assists for the Cougars. Brooke Beebe had 8 kills and 3 blocks, while Isabella Velazquez added 22 digs and 5 aces.
As district runner-up, Naples (11-7) is headed to the regional quarterfinals. The Golden Eagles have lost to Barron Collier eight times during the Cougars’ 11-year district reign, and seven times in the past eight years.
“We came out and fought,” Eagles senior Alex Renda said. “If we can take the same fight and same energy we just played with and carry that next week’s games, we’ll definitely do well.”
Molly Richards led Naples with 8 kills and 18 digs. Renda had 4 kills, 15 digs and 2 aces.
— Adam Fisher
LaBelle 3, DeSoto County 1
Her name was Janna Morrissey. DeSoto County knew well what the LaBelle star could do on the volleyball court. They suffered at her expense last month during the Gene Gorman tournament at Charlotte High.
In Thursday’s District 4A-8 championship match, the senior Cowgirls hitter got her kills, but it was her work at the service line that proved too much for the Bulldogs.
LaBelle took DeSoto County’s best shot and prevailed 22-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-15, thanks in large part to a lethal turn by Morrissey in the final set.
Morrissey, who entered the match with 245 kills on the season, rotated to serve with the Bulldogs holding an early 4-2 advantage in the fourth set. When she was finished, LaBelle led 15-4.
Morrissey tallied five aces, including three in a row during the 13-0 spree. From there, twin junior sisters Hannah and Haley Boone combined with Dylann White to trade points with the Bulldogs and cruise to victory.
“From the service line, she really took over,” LaBelle coach Lori Perkins said. “And our middles have really come along strong this season. Hannah had a big night offensively, then her twin sister had a big night blocking.”
LaBelle (12-9) will play host to Tarpon Springs on Thursday in the Class 4A regionals
— Patrick Obley
Community School 3, Canterbury 0
The Seahawks were in a record-breaking mood during its district championship match with the Cougars as Elly Beshears and Cassidy Bloom each broke the single-season kills mark and Becca Micelle established the single-season digs mark.
Beshears and Bloom passed the old mark of 330 set by 2017 graduate and current Brown University player Gabrielle Mariconi. Micelle broke Janet Guelfi’s old season mark of 303 set in 2013. Micelle finished with a game-high 25 digs for the Seahawks.
Bloom, Beshears and setter Caroline Costa each recorded double-doubles against Canterbury. Bloom recorded 18 kills and 17 digs, while Beshears added 15 kills and 11 digs. Costa delivered 38 assists – pushing her state-leading total to 884 – along with 16 digs. Community School (20-5) hosts Out of Door Academy in the regional quarterfinals Thursday. Canterbury (8-8) travels to Cardinal Mooney.
“We came into this game knowing that Canterbury’s a really good team,” Costa said. “They’ve got a lot of great girls on the team so we knew going in they were going to give us some good competition. We didn’t settle or allow ourselves to go down to a lower level. We were able to play at a high level the whole game and made sure we didn’t drop that intensity in any time of the game. We still felt we had something to prove. Winning districts last year – we forgot about that and we tried to treat like this was just another game and not the (district) final.”
The Seahawks were tested by the Cougars but never seriously threatened, leading virtually the entire way. There were a few somewhat tense moments in the match where momentum could have flipped, particularly in the second set. After the Seahawks started on an 11-4 and looked poised for a blowout, the Cougars embarked on a 10-4 run of their own and closed the gap to 15-14. The Seahawks recovered by scoring the next three points and five of the next six to regain control.
“We’ve got a special group here,” Community School coach Alicia MacIntyre said. “A lot of our girls have been playing together forever and what truly makes them special is the camaraderie they have. We truly are a family. We’ve got 15 players on the team right now, anywhere from eighth grade up to seniors and they all support each other in the gym, outside the gym. They work hard and have a desire and goal in mind and they’re not going to stop until they reach that goal.”
First Baptist 3, Marco Island 0
Following a win over rival Seacrest in the semifinals, First Baptist Academy had no trouble getting past Marco Island Academy in the final. The Lions (13-3) beat MIA in straight sets, winning 25-14, 25-9, 25-8.
“The girls are truly playing as a team,” FBA coach Marci Walker said. “Everyone is stepping up and contributing every match. It is awesome to see how much fun they have on the court together, and it shows in their play.”
Alexa Moulzolf had 16 kills for the Lions. Kirstin Koert had 25 assists, and Amarah Johnson had 7 blocks for FBA.
ECS 3, Sarasota Christian 1
Evangelical Christian parlayed a 2-12 season into a district championship as it pulled off a 25-22,13-25, 25-20, 25-20 upset of a Sarasota Christian (14-11-1) team it was swept by just last week.
Pacing ECS were Reilly Mulligan with 10 kills, seven digs and four aces, Emma Bement with 17 digs and Gabi Vera with 12 digs, 21 assists and five aces.
The Sentinels reached the district championship match when Southwest Florida Christian forfeited a semifinal due to the King’s program’s close exposure to COVID-19.
"As far as have the chance to play in the game is pretty indescribable. Our girls were so heartbroken for SFCA. We all felt saddened by the ending of a season for them. They were great competitors against us this season," ECS coach Theresa Kabel said.
"Our girls finally unified. They played together. It is something we battled the entire season albeit a short season. A lot of times you're able to knock those goals out with a longer season. They played together and they played hard. It was a great feeling for them to walk off the court with."
ECS will host Marco Island Academy on Wednesday in a regional quarterfinal. Sarasota Christian will hit the road for First Baptist Academy.
Riverview 3, Gulf Coast 1
Sarasota Riverview won its fifth district title in a row with a 25-23, 16-25, 27-25, 25-11 win over Gulf Coast. The Sharks will travel to Vero Beach for a regional quarterfinal next week.
Riverdale, Gulf Coast players picked for Phenom Talent Showcase
Three players from Southwest Florida have been selected for an elite nationwide event.
Riverdale setter Brayden Hipp and outside hitter Logyn Geren, along with Gulf Coast sophomore Lily Lucas will participate in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Phenom College Preparatory Program on Dec. 19 in Omaha, Nebraska.
The local players will take part in the Phenon Talent Showcase where athletes will demonstrate their skills in front of more than 200 college coaches in attendance in person and online. The event also includes volleyball performance index testing, behavioral profile assessments and educational sessions regarding recruiting and life as a college athlete.
Riverdale's season ended in a District 6A-12 regional semifinal Tuesday against Fort Myers where Hipp finished with 25 assists and 10 digs.
Lucas leads Gulf Coast in kills this season with 193 heading into the district tournament. Last year as a freshman she led the team with 282 kills. The Sharks play at Vero Beach in the regional quarterfinals Wednesday.
Regional playoff schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 21, Class 5A-7A quarterfinals
Ida Baker at Barron Collier
Naples at Port Charlotte
Palmetto Ridge at Venice
Charlotte at Fort Myers
Gulf Coast at Vero Beach
Thursday, Oct. 22, Class 2A-4A quarterfinals
Tarpon Springs at LaBelle
Canterbury at Cardinal Mooney
Out-of-Door Academy at CSN
Marco Island at ECS
Sarasota Christian at First Baptist