2 squads ride mo­men­tum into ti­tle matches

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND -

Lake High­land has won five Florida High School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion ti­tles, the last in 2008. A vic­tory on Satur­day would push the High­landers into a tie with Bishop Moore and The First Academy for the most girls vol­ley­ball state ti­tles in Cen­tral Florida his­tory.

LHP learned from its 2018 up­set loss to Montverde Academy in a district semi­fi­nal and has been on top of its game through­out this year’s play­off run. The High­landers have won all six of their best-of-five post­sea­son matches three games to none, in­clud­ing a 25-18, 25-11, 25-15 de­struc­tion of Montverde in re­gion play.

Katie Gal­lagher, who is in her sec­ond year as Lake High­land’s head coach, said her team has shown de­ter­mi­na­tion this sea­son, es­pe­cially the se­niors who look to close out their high school year as state cham­pi­ons.

“This group of se­niors are very spe­cial,” said Gal­lagher. “They have been in this pro­gram for so long and value ev­ery­thing about Lake High­land vol­ley­ball. The day after we lost last year, they told me they were de­ter­mined to never feel like that again. I think it shows in the suc­cess that we have had this year. Their de­ter­mi­na­tion, ac­count­abil­ity, pas­sion, re­spect and love are more than I could have asked from them their se­nior year.”

Santa Fe, the Class 6A run­ner-up to Mer­ritt Is­land last sea­son, is seek­ing its first vol­ley­ball state cham­pi­onship. The Raiders lost 2-1 to Hagerty at the Nike Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons in Ari­zona in Oc­to­ber.

Ad­mis­sion for state fi­nal matches is $12. Park­ing is $10 cash only.

All seven fi­nals will be we­b­cast by Spec­trum Cable. De­tails are on the fh­saa.org vol­ley­ball web page.

Huskies chase his­toric state ti­tle: The Hagerty girls vol­ley­ball team gets a sec­ond chance to claim the school’s first vol­ley­ball state fi­nal when they take on Palm Beach Gar­dens in the 7A fi­nal.

The Huskies were close to a state cham­pi­onship two years, los­ing in a fi­nal­four road match against Tal­la­has­see Leon 3-1.

“They’ve worked so hard this sea­son and they de­serve it,” said sev­enth-year Huskies coach Juanita Hitt.

“But there’s a lot on the line and we just got to work hard for every sin­gle point.”

After trav­el­ing to the Nike TOC event, Hitt said her team learned to be grit­tier in four-set and five-set sit­u­a­tions.

The Huskies are on a seven-match win­ning streak, which in­cludes tak­ing down 7A No. 2 Lyman 3-2 in the re­gion fi­nal.

“Go­ing into that tour­na­ment it helped us, es­pe­cially in that match against Lyman,” said Hitt. “We weren’t used to that, hav­ing ev­ery­thing on the line. We were good about that.”

For se­nior Au­drey Dou­glas, an Auburn com­mit, win­ning Hagerty’s first vol­ley­ball state ti­tle would be a huge ac­com­plish­ment.

“We have to serve ag­gres­sively; we’ve put a lot of em­pha­sis on serv­ing and pass­ing,” said Dou­glas. “If we fo­cus on our side, play to­gether and re­spect the other team, [it] would be the key to win­ning the ti­tle.”

Lake High­land Prep vol­ley­ball coach Katie Gal­lagher, left, talks with player Tamzen Wil­son at the school Nov. 9.

STEPHEN M. DOW­ELL/OR­LANDO SENTINEL PHOTOS

Hagerty coach Juanita Hitt dis­cusses strat­egy with her play­ers dur­ing Hagerty’s var­sity match against Tim­ber Creek on Oct. 16.

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