A veteran lineup led by six seniors maintained high expectations for the Palmer Trinity volleyball team this season.
That experience helped the Falcons on Saturday afternoon as they pulled to within one win of reaching the state finals for the second year in a row.
Palmer Trinity scored a pair of close victories in the first two games and held on to sweep visiting Florida Christian 26-24, 25-23, 25-17 in the Region 4-4A final.
The Falcons (16-5) will host Palm Beach Benjamin in a Class 4A state semifinal tentatively scheduled for next Saturday at 2 p.m. The winner will advance to the state final on Nov. 10 at West Port High in Ocala.
Palmer Trinity has reached the state semifinals four times since 2005, but is still chasing its first state championship.
“We expected to at least get to this point this season and it’s definitely due to our hard work,” Palmer Trinity coach William Gonzalez said. “Our seniors have done great, but our younger players have also worked hard and developed over the season.”
Senior Ashley Quero led the Falcons with 12 kills, 11 digs and two blocks, and senior Daniela Diaz had six kills, six digs and three blocks.
Senior setter Juliette Hamilton had 23 assists and two blocks and sophomore libero Julia Cohen had 16 digs.
Senior Brittany Beckelheimer had over 10 kills and led Florida Christian (18-7), which lost in the regional semifinals last season to Palmer Trinity.
The Patriots took leads in each of the first two games and led 22-18 late in the second. But a couple of unforced errors and a controversial point reversal on a ball that was ruled out after hitting an obstruction on the top of the ceiling of the gym swung the momentum back in Palmer’s favor. After a 7-1 surge the Falcons had won the game and taken control of the match.
“We had to call timeout and make some adjustments,” Gonzalez said. “I knew our attack was the problem and we were making mistakes. We recognized that and adjusted what we needed to do.”
▪ Region 3-4A final – Benjamin d. Westminster Academy 28-26, 29-31, 25-14, 21-15, 15-10: The Lions dropped a heartbreaker in five games in the regional final for the second consecutive season.