There was no state championship to be won by the Mourning boys’ volleyball team Friday night, but you might not have known that by the way fans, players and coaches stormed the center of the court in a mass celebration.
The celebrating was over a fifth-year program that had just won a marathon 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-10 thriller over Boca Raton in a state quarterfinal at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.
And with it will come a daunting task as the Sharks (19-6) will be looking at defending-state-champion and nationally-ranked Longwood Lyman in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday. Lyman (28-0) comes in on a 58-match winning streak dating to last season, and has lost just three sets during this season.
“I’m so proud of them,” Mourning coach Dee Rey said. “For us being just a fifth year program to make it this far is really something. Lyman is going to be a big challenge for us [Saturday] but obviously we would rather have it in front of us than not have it.”
After winning two of the first three sets, Mourning led the fourth 15-10 only to watch Boca come back to win it 25-23 and force a fifth set. The Sharks took a 5-1 lead in the fifth, and the Bobcats never got closer than two points before senior Daniel Barrera closed things out with a high-flying, thundering spike, his final of a game-leading 13 kills, for the match-winner.
It was a year ago when Mourning made a maiden voyage to the state tournament and was promptly bounced out in three straight sets by Orlando Bishop Moore, and all agreed it was a lesson the team brought with it to Friday’s match with Boca.
“You see people you love in the bleachers and we had all of our fans here today and it meant a lot and helped carry us through,” Barrera said. “Going through what we went through last year [losing at state] helped us because it wasn’t something that was brand new to us this time.”
• State quarterfinal — Longwood Lyman d. Killian 3-0: Having already pulled off an upset win over Southwest just days earlier to qualify for the state tournament, asking Killian to knock off the defending state champion was probably too much.
The Cougars fought hard and played about as well as could be expected, but in the end, they turned out to be no match for Longwood Lyman as the Greyhounds prevailed 25-17, 25-23, 25-18 in a state quarterfinal at Pine Crest School.
The Cougars led for much of the second set and were up 18-15 when Lyman scored six consecutive points to go up 21-18. The Greyhounds won the set when a thunderous kill from Kenneth Lawrence was partially blocked by Killian’s Jose Martinez, and the ball barely landed out of bounds, giving the set to Lyman.
“Their front line is tough and they really don’t have any weaknesses but they can be broken down,” said Martinez who had seven blocks and three service points for Killian, which finishes the season 23-6. “We thought we might get them in that second set, which would’ve made it 1-1 and maybe given us some momentum, but they made one more big play than we did.”
• State quarterfinal — Tampa Berkeley Prep. d. Ransom Everglades 3-0: Tampa Berkeley Prep proved to be just a little tougher and made just a few more clutch plays down the stretch to knock off Ransom Everglades 25-18, 26-24, 25-23, knocking out the Raiders, who were in their first state quarterfinal.
Ransom (26-4) led the second set 22-19, but Berkeley ran off four consecutive points and won it 26-24 to go up 2-0 in the match.