2 squads ride momentum into title matches
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.
Hagerty coach Juanita Hitt discusses strategy with her players during Hagerty’s varsity match against Timber Creek on Oct. 16.