Ever since becoming Ransom Everglades’ volleyball coach, Roger Peluso’s goal has been to make the Raiders a state title contender.
For the third consecutive season, Ransom is on the brink of competing for one.
Using their combination of size and experience, Ransom Everglades swept rival Gulliver on Tuesday night 25-8, 25-20, 28-26 in a Region 4-4A semifinal at the Gulliver gym.
Ransom Everglades (27-2), which is chasing its first berth in the state final four since 1994, has been denied a trip to state each of the past two seasons by a Broward County foe (North Broward Prep and Cardinal Gibbons).
This Saturday night, the Raiders will face another as they host Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna at 7 p.m.
“This is as good a chance as we’ve had because we have a great group that has put in the commitment together to get to this point,” Peluso said. “The players are there, and we’re solid at every position.”
Ransom feels more confident for three reasons.
The Raiders returned their entire roster from last season’s team.
They also feature a starting lineup with five of six starters at least measuring 5-9 or taller that has helped them overpower opponents as it did Gulliver on Tuesday.
And Ransom, which has victories over several fellow state title contenders including Westminster Christian this season, beat Chaminade in its lone meeting this season at the Smoothie King Invitational in October.
“I really don’t know what to expect, because that was a very close match that could have gone either way,” Peluso said. “It helps to play them at home. But we have to be at the top of our game because it has the potential to be that way again Saturday.”
Kathryn Trinka, an Emory University commitment, led the Raiders again with 17 kills and 16 digs. Several of those helped Ransom survive a couple of set points in the third after Gulliver a 25-24 and 26-25 lead.
Setter Nikki Colonna finished with 39 assists, and Lisette Tellez and Tere Bernace each had good games on the back row with 12 and 10 digs respectively. Erika Slaver also had 10 kills and three blocks.
Miami High’s gym, long nicknamed “The Asylum” will host its first high school basketball event Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The Miami High girls’ basketball preseason classic tips off Wednesday with a four-team classic featuring the host Stingarees, defending state finalists Lourdes and Norland and playoff regular Monsignor Pace. Tickets are $5.
Schedule – Wednesday: Pace vs. Miami High, 6; Lourdes vs. Norland, 7:30; Thursday: Lourdes vs. Pace, 6; Miami High vs. Norland, 7:30.
• Region 8-3A semifinal — Westminster Christian d. Palmer Trinity, 25-18, 25-16, 25-7: Henry Hernandez, a former University of Miami first baseman, isn’t the only big hitter in the family.
His daughter, All-State outside hitter Sylvia Hernandez, pounded out 17 kills to lead the host Warriors (25-4) to their third win of the season over Palmer Trinity (19-6).
It was the third consecutive season that the Warriors had eliminated Palmer from the playoffs.
Westminster needs a win on Saturday against Calvary Christian to return to the state semifinals for the second consecutive year.
In Tuesday’s match, the Warriors never trailed. There were three ties in the first set, and Palmer was as close as 9-8, but Westminster put together a 6-0 run and cruised from there.
Susie Forbes led the Warriors with 18 digs, and Kelsey Taylor had team-highs in assists (16) and aces (four).
Coach Julie Doan also praised two of her sophomores.
“Courtney [Clausell] had a phenomenal game,” Doan said. “And Sammy [Ceballos] has had three or four great games in a row for us.”
Despite the loss, Palmer’s future appears bright. Counting their libero, Palmer started two juniors, three sophomores, one freshman and one eighth grader on Tuesday.
• Region 4-4A semifinal — Chaminade d. Cardinal Gibbons 25-19, 25-19, 25-19: Heading into this season, Chaminade-Madonna knew it would need to take down girls’ volleyball powerhouse — and district rival — Cardinal Gibbons multiple times if it wanted to reach the state tournament.
For the third time in as many matches, the host Lions were victorious.
Chaminade-Madonna (24-3) will face the winner of Gulliver Prep and Ransom Everglades at 2 p.m. Saturday with that trip to state on the line. The Lions lost in three sets to the latter at a tournament held at Ransom earlier this season.
The Lions last reached the state semifinal in 2009, falling in three sets. Three of the current seniors — captain Brianna Little, Dillon Villella and Monica Iglesias — were on that squad.
“Freshman year was the epitome of all my volleyball dreams,” said Little, who finished with four kills and three blocks on Tuesday. “I’ve been playing volleyball for years, but that was the most amazing thing. The team was so together and we all enjoyed it. As good as that past team was, I think we’ve got even better chemistry and more talent. We’ve got it, we just need to focus and have fun with it.”
In the first set, Chaminade-Madonna tallied 13 of the next 16 points with the score tied at 5. The Lions jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second set, but trailed 18-16 after a Chief run. From there, Chaminade-Madonna went on a 9-1 run to close it out. The Lions took an 8-3 advantage in the final set, but Cardinal Gibbons tied it at 11. The Lions rattled off eight consecutive points and never allowed the Chiefs within six.
Junior middle blocker Emily O’Neil recorded 15 service points, two aces, six kills and four blocks for the Lions. Junior outside hitter Amber Addison added eight kills and four blocks.
Senior middle blocker Hannah Hills led the Chiefs (12-12) with six kills, two blocks, one dig and one service point. Senior outside hitter Shirley Bazua tallied five kills, three blocks, two digs and one assist.
CHRISTINA DE NICOLA
• Region 4-2A semifinal — Westwood Christian vs. Calusa Prep, ppd.: The match was postponed Tuesday night because of scheduling conflicts. The game will be rescheduled for later this week. The winner will advance to Saturday’s regional final game versus Sheridan Hills Christian.
• Florida Christian 3, Miami Country Day 2: Katelyn Godoy 3 goals. Jessica Balcero 2 assists. For MCD Avery Watson goal. FC 1-1.
• Hillel 6, Archbishop Curley 1: Carli Scheck 3 goals. Alexandra Ohayon 2 goals. Nikki Scheck goal.
• Ransom 3, University School 0: Chloe Treaster 1 goal, 2 assists. Dani Frese 1 goal. Victoria Sotolongo shutout.
• Columbus 4, Coral Park 3: Juan Aguerrevere 3 goals. Alejandro Pita goal, assist. Danny del Rio 3 assists.