ORANGE PARK - Fleming Island High first year volleyball coach Jamie Reed inherited a graduation-depleted stellar lineup with just one starting returner; though with an injury, and the result has been …
ORANGE PARK - Fleming Island High first year volleyball coach Jamie Reed inherited a graduation-depleted stellar lineup with just one starting returner; though with an injury, and the result has been a late season surge of confidence.
Now, Reed has to overcome the spector of taking out the number two team in the nation to become a district champion.
Ponte Vedra, in district 3-6A with Fleming Island, has been ranked nationally number one until a first loss to Miami’s Westminster Christian pushed the Sharks to number two.
“I think the first game was a bit of the deer in the headlights for us,” said Reed, who watched her Golden Eagles on Mon., Oct. 4, take on Ponte Vedra to a 3-0 loss. “I got them settled in and reminded them that with execution, hustle and discipline to just do their job, the outcome may be different. We can beat them if we execute together.”
In games two and three, Ponte Vedra, with top hitter Zeta Washington bashing the net (198 kills for season), striking lightning bolts into the heart of the Eagles defense, won 25-21 and 25-18.
“They crushed the first game 25-8 and just overwhelmed us,” said Reed. “But, this team fought back and started to just relax and play their game. A few breaks here and there and some momentum and we got close. We got time before districts and a match like this says alot about where the program is compared to the start of the season.”
One key factor to Reed’s advantage is the prospect of having senior Maya Walker in the lineup.
Walker, a major contributor with kills (123) and blocks (19) on last year’s all state roster, has recently been given a green light to compete, but Reed is taking the process slowly.
“She played her first game in about a year a week ago and had some swelling afterward,” said Reed. “She was her usual dominant self, but I want to preserve her future career and college playing days. If she can go, the whole team changes because she is such a great leader on and off the court.”
The Ridgeview High girls volleyball team, amidst a week of top-ranked opponents that finished with one loss; against 6A-Leon, the number two team in 6A and fourth state wide, four wins over the likes of Middleburg, Fleming Island, Master’s Academy and Yulee, maintained the momentum with a top-ranked spot in Class 5A, according to Maxpreps.
Area teams gear up for district tournaments starting October 18 with Clay High hosting probably the most explosive district in the area with Ridgeview, Middleburg and Clay all vying for the top spot with strong season finishes.
The Panthers, 10-6 overall, have one final test on Tues., Oct. 5 with Bartram Trail coming to Orange Park. The Bears are 11-4 and ranked eighth in Class 7A, just behind fourth-ranked Mandarin, and 26th in Florida.
Bartram Trail fell to Ponte Vedra, who has smoked all challengers to a state top ranking; second in USA, and top bidding in Class 6A, Mandarin, Trinity Christian and Gulf Breeze (18-3, 4th in 6A) from their action-packed schedule. Mandarin has senior Ellie Jackson as fifth best scorer in 7A with 196 Kills while Bartram Trail’s Jenna Ott is eighth in 7A with 178. Where the Lady Bears excel is number two scorer is at 12th in 7A, Lauren Marien, with 159. That will keep the Ridgeview front line of defense hopping.
Ridgeview sophomore blocker Haley Robinson is ranked 14th in 5A with 51 snaps above the net with Middleburg’s Tamin Trott two slots below at 16th (48) and Clay’s Abby Rutledge at 21st (42). Ridgeview doubles up on defense with Zoe Whaley at 40 blocks.
In the 5A stats, Orange Park’s Hailey Revak, a sophomore, is 13th in assists with 279 for the Raiders.
Middleburg, though with coach Carrie Prewitt singed by Ridgeview just a week ago, is not to be slighted in the upcoming district 3-5A tournament with Ridgeview as the the Lady Broncos (11-8) are eighth in 5A.
Middleburg, with sophomore hitter Connor Rahn a top scorer for Prewitt (9th in 5A Kills 177), finishes with Nease (22nd in 6A), Fleming Island, Bartram Trail and Creekside (14th in 7A) as tune ups for the much-probable district championship showdown with the Ridgeview High squad.
Clay, the third district 3-5A challenger with the momentum of five wins in last six games, is 10-7 and 24th in 5A. Clay finishes with Orange Park, Bishop Snyder, Bolles (16th in 4A) and West Nassau.
Keystone Heights, 40th in 3A at 9-7, has Kamryn Eaton as top scorer at 49th in 3A with 114 Kills and two players; juniors Sarah Siebert and Riley Barry as top blockers at 20th and 21st in 3A with 38 apiece.
Keystone Heights finishes with Union County, Interlachen and Dixie County.
St. Johns Country Day School, 8-2, is 14th in Class 2A with senior Kinley Hall in top 50 blocks with 20 and sophomore Ashlyn Anderson 39th in Kills with 105.
Oakleaf is in the very tough Class 7A ranks with the Lady Knights 42nd. Oakleaf finishes strong after a loss to Bartram Trail with Creekside, Ridgeview, Orange Park and Menendez.
Fleming Island, 7-10 but much improved with a young team over the season, finishes with Ponte Vedra on Monday, Middleburg and Episcopal (17th in 3A).