LAND O'LAKES — Sunlake knocked off two-time defending region finalist Fivay 25-14, 25-21, 25-21 Tuesday to earn the top seed for the Class 5A, District 8 volleyball tournament.
With Fivay keying on top Sunlake hitter Sarah Sprague, Kelsey Riquelme took over and recorded 17 kills for the Seahawks (17-5).
"We knew they would be camping on Sarah," said Sunlake coach Deann Newton, whose team recovered from a weekend where it went 2-3 at a tournament in Lakeland.
Both teams entered 6-0 in the district so Fivay will be the No. 2 seed. The Falcons certainly could have made it a longer match Tuesday, but faltered after holding a 20-15 lead in the second set.
Despite that, Fivay (14-7) showed some heart in the third. Amber Lake had five of her nine kills, three during a stretch that saw the Falcons go from 19-16 down to a 20-20 tie. But they then committed a service error, one of four in the set and one of numerous errors on the night.
"We gave them way too many points, and we weren't attacking enough," Fivay coach Nikki Pollock said. She was optimistic, though, that the Falcons can clean up the mistakes in time for the district tournament, which they host.
Both sides were sloppy in the first set but Sunlake's Gianna Basulto sorted things out with six aces. Basulto served out the second set's final three points, completing a 10-1 Seahawks run. A beautiful dig by Nelly Diaz led to Colby Coats setting Sprague for a point to make it 24-21, then Riquelme called for the final kill to give Sunlake the 2-0 lead.
Sprague ended with eight kills. Coats, rewarding Newton for more court time recently, had 16 assists and Shaira Sanabria added 12. Diaz paced the Seahawks with 12 digs. Kirbea Harrell had seven kills for Fivay and Alli Hudson had six. Hailey Lake, Amber Lake and Lindsey Christianson all hit double digits in digs for Fivay; setter Jordyn Mattos went for 24 assists.
Sprague was a little surprised at the sweep, though called it rewarding and an indicator of the hard work Sunlake has turned in.
"We never beat Fivay, and we always have to play at their high school. What a way to do it, with a sweep," Riquelme said.