ST. PETERSBURG — For the first time in school history, Calvary Christian is going to regionals.
The Warriors swept Indian Rocks Christian 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 to earn a spot in the 3A-9 final against Clearwater Central Catholic.
Calvary also had never beaten Indian Rocks Christian (19-8).
“This was a total surprise,” Warriors coach Caleb Sibert said of the sweep. “I thought this would be a five-game battle. We were very determined. We came ready to play.”
Senior captain and outside hitter Rachel Mostert, who has orally committed to Florida Southern, led the way with 17 kills, 15 digs and four aces. No. 3 seed Calvary Christian (20-7) trailed in all three games before taking the lead late. The biggest comeback came in Game 2 when the Warriors trailed 20-14.
“Our goal was to accomplish the three things we’ve never done,” Sibert said. “We had it on our list and we were able to check off all three in one night.”
In the second game of the semifinal, No. 1 seed CCC had little trouble with Northside Christian, winning 25-15, 25-17, 25-18. Casey Moore had 32 assists and nine kills. Rachel Miller had 23 digs, and Rachel Odell added eight kills.
The district final is Thursday at Shorecrest.
8A-8: PHU-East Lake rematch on tap
PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University lost to Sarasota Riverview on Oct. 11 in five games during what became a seven-match losing streak.
In that loss to the Rams, senior outside hitter Lee Nielsen and junior middle hitter Naomi Mack were injured.
Nielsen and Mack are back, and Tuesday’s rematch was a much different result as Palm Harbor University won 25-11, 25-18, 25-18.
Six days after defeating East Lake in the PCAC final, the Hurricanes (14-12) seem to be playing their best. They’ll face the Eagles at East Lake on Thursday for the district championship.
“We’ve been playing pretty well, but with Lee and Naomi back it’s icing on the cake,” said senior setter Abbey Bouchard, who had 30 assists. “In the last two weeks we’ve been playing better than we have all season.”
Nielsen had 13 kills, Mack added 12 kills and three blocks, and Logan Miller had seven aces and four blocks. The win sets up the fourth match of the season against East Lake.
“Those matches are so fun,” Bouchard said. “They are intense; every point is tough.”
East Lake romps: Entering Tuesday’s Class 8A-8 semifinal with North Port, East Lake had made the playoffs seven straight years.
After losing the PCAC championship to Palm Harbor University last week, there was a chance the Eagles could get caught looking ahead.
It didn’t happen as East Lake dispatched North Port 25-14, 25-20, 25-17.
“We played cautious tonight,” coach Mike Estes said. “We can’t have any injuries right now.”
The Eagles are trying to get senior Shelby Younger and junior Kelsey Smith — ankle injuries — back on the court. Estes was pleased Shelby was able to play in limited relief.
For the match, senior Mary Gillis had 10 kills, senior Jessica Steidl had 22 digs, and senior setter Christy Dunham added 27 assists. Smith made key blocks when the Eagles seemed to be a little flat.
Estes called out Dunham for making key contributions.
“She’s one of our unsung heroes; she’s been a great role player for us,” Estes said.
6A-12: Rally mode pays off for Osceola
SEMINOLE — Down by two games and facing elimination in the Class 6A, District 12 semifinals, Osceola sure seemed to be in trouble.
Coach Ryan Kramer, though, was undisturbed.
He simply kept the faith and his team practiced everything he preached. The Warriors were hustled on offense. They were smothering on defense. And Kramer pushed every button but the one marked panic.
Osceola’s perseverance paid off. The Warriors (7-11) overcame early deficits in the final three games to beat Palmetto 21-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 16-14. By winning, No. 2 seed Osceola advances to the playoffs for the second straight season and can win its first district title since 1983 in Thursday’s championship game at top-seeded Bradenton Lakewood Ranch.
“This is going to sound crazy, but I wasn’t worried,” Kramer said. “We lost the first two games, but they were close and they beat us because of our own mistakes. I knew we were too fast for them, and our speed would eventually catch up.”
The outcome was far different than the first meeting, which the Warriors swept in three games. But on a team with just one senior, Kramer said inexperience can catch up with them at times.
“We’re so young that you never know what you’re going to get at times,” Kramer said.
Osceola rallied by chasing after every ball and connecting on numerous shots. Emily Barton led the Warriors with 21 kills, followed by Kayla Chowdhury with 16.
Osceola lost to Lakewood Ranch in four close games in their lone meeting this season. But Kramer said he played without Barton in that game.
“Emily was out the first time, and she’ll definitely help us,” Kramer said. “I think we’ll play even better.”
Class 5A-12: No. 2-seeded Lakewood needed five games to get past Bradenton Southeast 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9. Lakewood (11-8) will play in the district final Thursday against top-seeded Dunedin, a 25-11, 25-11, 22-25, 25-19 winner over Bradenton Bayshore.
Leigh Buttner led the Spartans with 18 kills, 11 digs and four aces. Kimberly McEntegart had 43 assists and 15 digs, Sarah Donnelly had seven aces, Samantha Roberts had 11 kills and six assists and Treniece Green and Mariah Watts each had six blocks.
Class 2A-9: Canterbury, the No. 2 seed, beat third-seeded and host Keswick Christian 25-18, 25-13, 23-25, 25-13 in the semifinals. Canterbury (13-10) plays top-seeded Sarasota Christian in Thursday’s championship.
In the first two games Tuesday, Canterbury had to rally to put away Keswick. In the third, Keswick had a comeback of its own to win. Canterbury was dominant throughout in the fourth and deciding game. Kayla Perry led Canterbury with 21 kills.
Kimberly McEntegart, Lakewood: She helped lead the Spartans to a spot in regionals with 43 assists and 15 digs in a five-game win over Bradenton Southeast.
Rachel Mostert, Calvary Christian: The Florida Southern commit had 17 kills and 15 digs to lead the Warriors to their first region tournament appearance and first district final.
Jessica Paquette, Canterbury: The senior was a serving machine, leading her team with four aces against Keswick in the 2A-9 semifinals.
Jen Kistemaker, Osceola: The sophomore middle hitter was dominant around the net, finishing with seven kills and three blocks against Palmetto in the 6A-12 semis.
By the numbers
3 Playoff appearances in Osceola’s school history, including two straight after beating Palmetto in Tuesday’s 6A-12 semifinals.
4 Matches between Palm Harbor University and East Lake this season, including Thursday’s district final (East Lake leads 2-1). The teams could meet again in the region tournament.
7 Straight postseason appearances for Canterbury after Tuesday’s four-game victory over Keswick Christian in the 2A-9 semifinals
20 Wins this season for Calvary Christian, most in school history
“We were just mediocre the first couple of games. By the final game, we were able to find our rhythm on offense and served more aggressive.” — Canterbury coach Kendrea Meyer-Penrose
Staff writer Bob Putnam and correspondent Andy Warrener contributed to this report.