TAMPA — Wednesday night’s Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinal matchup between Land O’ Lakes and Robinson was familiar territory for both teams.
They had just played each other in the Class 5A, District 6 championship, which Robinson won 3-1. The rematch was almost an identical ending for Land O’ Lakes. The No. 5-seeded Gators were able to steal the first game, but not continue with the momentum. The No. 4 Knights won 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 29-27.
Now the Knights will gear up to face top-seeded Port Charlotte, which defeated Clearwater 3-0. Knights coach Kylee Gorngpratum knew it was going to be tough for her club to beat Land O’ Lakes in back-to-back matches.
“(Land O’ Lakes) came out with a lot of energy to start tonight,” Gorngpratum said. “They obviously watched a lot of film since the district championship game and they played very well in the first set. We just regrouped and it’s always hard beating someone back to back.”
Land O’ Lakes (15-14) seemed to capture all the energy in the gymnasium when they started off sizzling and led 12-6 at one point. Robinson made things interesting at the end, but was unable to come all the way back.
Robinson (12-4) came out strong in each of the next three games. The fourth set became the toughest and most exciting of the night.
The match seemed destined to reach a decisive fifth set, as Land O’ Lakes held the lead several times and only needed one point to clinch Game 4. It ended up being Robinson rallying; the Knights were once up 17-10.
Now on to Tuesday’s semifinals.
“I actually have seen a little bit on Port Charlotte,” Gorngpratum said. “One thing we have had trouble with this year is size, and (Port Charlotte) has good size at the net."
Among the top performers for Robinson on Wednesday was Mila Yarich, who notched a team-high 19 kills. Teammate Maddie Hill contributed 13 kills, and Madison Williams added 13 assists and 11 digs for the Knights.