OCALA — With a trip to the state final four on the line, Hudson traveled up to Vanguard on Saturday afternoon for the Class 4A, Region 2 final.
In a hard-fought comeback, the Cobras knocked off Vanguard 25-22, 17-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-9.
After falling behind 2-1, Hudson (25-3) came roaring back behind the senior leadership of Jessica Imbimbo. The Cobras struggled through the first three games of the match. In the fourth game, Imbimbo answered the call. In what could have been the final contest of her prep career, the captain racked up 20 kills, including nine after her team lost the third game.
"(Imbimbo) is not just a great hitter, she's a team player," Hudson first-year coach Shayna Munson said. "She doesn't just get it done as a player, she gets it done as a teammate."
For those in attendance, it was clear the road to the region title was going to run through Vanguard captain Holly Pole (33 kills, two aces). The junior hitter was amazing from start to finish, but Hudson's ability to both dig and block opposing hitters kept the team in the contest, according to Munson.
"(Pole) is phenomenal," she said. "We just did what we needed to do on our end and stayed disciplined."
Vanguard (22-7) came into the match with a strategy to set up Pole time and again, and Hudson had no answer for her at the net. But a solid front line led to the Cobras' first berth in the state semifinals since 2004. Hudson registered 80 total kills to only 52 from the Knights.
6A: Plant eases back to state semis
TAMPA — Thorough beatings are nothing new to Orlando Dr. Phillips. Typically, though, it hasn't been on the receiving end. But as Dr. Phillips discovered Saturday, Plant is no typical team.
Nationally ranked Plant easily defeated Dr. Phillips 25-8, 25-19, 25-13 to reach its fourth straight final four, where the Panthers will attempt to win their fourth consecutive title.
Dr. Phillips had no answer for Alex Johnson (13 kills) or Plant middle hitter Maddie Martin (21 kills). Setter Becca Howard (40 assists) ran the offense to perfection and libero Ali McCurdy (15 digs) keyed the defense with eye-opening digs.