KISSIMMEE -- It was a defeat, yes, but after having forced the top-ranked team in the nation to a deciding fifth set, Ransom Everglades left Silver Spurs Arena justifiably proud.
Orlando’s Bishop Moore, ranked No. 1 by MaxPreps and 10th by PrepVolleyball, defeated Ransom, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-11, Friday night in a Class 4A state semifinal.
“I’m not going to lie,” Ransom coach Roger Peluso said, “this hurts. But I think you all will agree that we put up a fight.”
The Hornets (31-0) ended Ransom’s 19-match win streak and will go for their first state title since 2000 on Saturday against Tampa’s Berkeley Prep. It was Berkeley Prep that beat Bishop Moore in the 2011 state final.
Ransom finished its season at 28-3, but the Raiders – who made their first appearance at state since 1994 – earned respect.
“I would rate Ransom among the top four in the state (among all classes) with the way they performed,” Bishop Moore coach Tanya Jarvis said.
“Their blocking was really good. They got touches on so many balls. They were able to transition their middles a lot more than we expected.”
For perspective on how dominant Bishop Moore had been before Friday, consider that the Hornets did not lose a single set in three regional playoff matches. In fact, in their previous 25 matches, they had lost a total of just two sets.
But Ransom had 13 blocks to just 7 for Bishop Moore, a tribute to their superior middle blockers, Erika and Caroline Sklaver.
Bishop Moore won largely because of the efforts of three players, all of whom have committed to Division I colleges.
The best of the three was 6-2 senior outside hitter Lindsey Owens (Virginia Tech), who had a match-high 37 kills, including eight in the final set. She also showed her versatility with 20 digs.
Danielle Glinka, a 5-11 senior outside hitter who is going to Dartmouth, had 20 kills. Combined with Owens, they had 57 of the team’s 62 kills.
The other member of the trio is 5-9 junior setter Allie Monserez (South Carolina), who had a match-high 57 assists.
Owens’ hitting percentage was a match-best .366. Peluso tried to match his 5-11 setter on the block against Owens, but Jarvis moved her star around to avoid that strategy.
Kathryn Trinka led Ransom with 17 kills, including three in the final set. Jess Mandel added 13 kills, Colonna had 47 assists and Tere Bernace had a match-high 28 digs.
“We came in as underdogs, but we had a lot of confidence,” Trinka said. “I don’t think any of this thought for a second that we were going to lose.”
Early on, it looked like it would be a rout by Bishop Moore, which led by eight points in the first set. But the Raiders rallied to within 22-20 before falling.
After splitting the next two sets, Ransom came back to win the fourth game. The Raiders led by as many as nine but squandered five set points before finally prevailing.
In the fifth set, Ransom just could not stop Owens.
Ransom will now graduate five seniors: Trinka, Mandel, Erika Sklaver, Nicole Cruz and Caitlin Rolle. But they return their setter (Colonna), their libero (Bernace), one of their big middles (Caroline Sklaver) and right-side hitter Lisette Tellez.
“I think we’ve created a volleyball culture at Ransom,” Mandel said. “The word is getting out that we have a strong program. And even though we are losing five seniors, the volleyball program has nowhere to go but up.”