KISSIMMEE -- After a couple years away from the boys’ volleyball state finals, Miami Southwest just needed time to adjust to the big stage.
After dropping the first set to Douglas in Friday night’s quarterfinal, the Eagles settled into their surroundings to win in four.
“We just had to overcome ourselves,” senior Aaron Dos Santos said. “We started out really slow and let the venue affect us. Then we were able to pick it up in the second set and get ourselves together.”
Southwest (23-5) will face unbeaten Longwood Lyman (29-0) in Saturday’s semifinals.
Southwest’s tiny gym is a stark contrast to Silver Spurs Arena, and the bright lights and high ceiling required some adjusting to. After dropping the first set 25-22, the Eagles evened it up with a 25-20 second set and began to assert supremacy in the third.
After Douglas overcame an early deficit to close within 17-16, Southwest ran off six consecutive points on Alex Garcia’s serve on the way to a 25-17 win.
In the fourth, a Douglas rally fell short as Southwest ended it 25-21.
“Our offense was hot and cold,” Eagles coach Mauricio Diaz said. “But I thought our service game was outstanding. And our defense — we had some good plays to bring balls back from almost over the [media] tables. It was a lot of fun to watch.”
Douglas (17-2) got 14 kills from Matt Archambault, but saw his effectiveness neutralized as the match went on.
“Give credit to Southwest, they were shutting him down in the box,” Douglas coach Carla Nicholson said. “We tried to find other go-to players, but it was hard to find the connection.”
• Coral Reef d. Park Vista 25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 16-14: Three points from a potential sweep of Park Vista, the Barracudas instead found themselves staring at a quick trip home before rallying to take the fifth set.
Park Vista won five of the first six points of the final set and still led 8-4 when Coral Reef coach Yasmin Ortiz called timeout and asked her players the hard question.
“Is this yours or not?” Ortiz queried. “This is what you’ve been working for, what are you going to do with it?”
The Barracudas responded by winning seven of the next eight points. Park Vista battled back to tie it 14-14, but Cedric Hankerson ripped a kill down the middle and Gregory Deverson’s serve handcuffed the Cobras’ Alejandro Noguera for the winning point.
The Barracudas (22-6) advanced to play defending state champion Bishop Moore in Saturday’s semifinals.
• Longwood Lyman d. Cypress Bay 25-22, 25-15, 29-27: This time, the comeback magic ran out a little early for Cypress Bay. The Lightning, which beat back a two-set deficit to Cardinal Gibbons in the regional final, found itself in familiar territory when it rallied from a six-point deficit to send the third set to overtime.
But unbeaten Lyman proved too strong in the end, taking a 29-27 win and three-set sweep.
“It’s tough to do, coming back like that multiple times,” Lightning coach Chris Guerra said.
• Orlando Bishop Moore d. Mourning 25-15, 25-14, 25-17: Mourning, making its first finals trip in just its fourth year, found it tough to crack a Bishop Moore squad seeking its third title in that same time frame.
“[Bishop Moore] has been to states for how many years?” coach Dee Rey said. “So to them, this is just another game. This is the first time we’ve ever done this. But we’ll be back.”
Werner Sabban, who with setter Eric Paulsen are the two remaining members of Mourning’s inaugural team, notched 10 kills as the Sharks finished 18-6.