KISSIMMEE -- What Southwest Miami wouldn’t give to have the first 15 minutes or so back of its state boys’ volleyball semifinal.
Undefeated Longwood Lyman reeled off eight of the first nine points Saturday, cruising to a 25-10 first-set victory that left the Eagles with an uphill task they never could overcome despite being able to extend the match into a fourth set.
“I guess we weren’t that ready at the beginning,” Southwest captain Ricardo Reguera said.
Said libero Aaron Dos Santos: “They came to the game prepared, had their heads in the zone and knew what they had to do. [Lyman] caught us with our pants down.”
Lyman (30-0) also broke open a close second set with six consecutive points in a 25-22 win. Southwest managed to win the third 25-22, but service mistakes doomed them as Lyman took the fourth 25-23.
“We got a couple of leads, but I guess our momentum went out again,” Reguera said. “We missed serves and our blocks weren’t there.”
The Greyhounds advanced to a championship matchup against Central Florida rival Bishop Moore, which swept Coral Reef in the afternoon’s second match.
Southwest (23-6) was seeking to make its fifth trip to the final in the state tournament’s 11-year history. The Eagles won the inaugural state title in 2003, adding another in 2008 and finishing as runners-up the next two years.
But it wouldn’t be easy against Lyman, which had been extended beyond three sets just twice since early April.
And the task became far tougher when Lyman got off to its fast start, traced in part to Southwest mistakes. Three of William Rodriguez’s attack errors came in that opening sequence.
“We faltered at times, but I can’t blame my team entirely,” Dos Santos said. “[Lyman is] a strong team, too. They knew what they needed to do, and they executed.”
Zach Rynning put down 24 kills for the Greyhounds, with Stash Kirsnowski adding another 17. Reguera led Southwest with 16 kills, and Rodriguez finished with 14.
“It hurts to the heart that we’re done for the season,” Dos Santos said. “But it’s still impressive to be top four in the state. Very few people can come up here and do what we did.”
• Bishop Moore d. Coral Reef 25-16, 25-17, 25-12: Bishop Moore, seeking its third state crown in four years, used its experience to leave the Barracudas (22-7) little breathing room .
Coral Reef did jump out to a 6-4 lead in the opening game before the Hornets (25-2) went on an 8-1 run. Bishop Moore has yet to lose a set in the postseason and has dropped just one since mid-April.
“Those kids play club [volleyball],” Barracudas coach Yasmin Ortiz said. “And when you play club, it becomes a major advantage when it comes to experience.
“They were not letting a single ball drop. It didn’t matter what we were sending their way — if we wanted to score the point, we had to terminate completely. We couldn’t go on rallies with them because experience will always get you.”
Cedric Hankerson led Coral Reef with 14 kills, which was making its first trip to the state finals. Malik Audain added nine kills and Oscar Rouco had 13 digs.
“We weren’t the favorites,” Audain said, “so the fact that we made it this far is an accomplishment.”