It’s one thing to be down 2-0 in sets to anybody in volleyball.
It’s another to be down to a team that’s 23-0, nationally ranked and has already beaten you once during the season.
Such was the task in front of Cardinal Gibbons on Friday afternoon when anything that could go wrong went wrong in the first two sets against Boca Raton.
But, led by J.T. Martin, one of the most highly sought-after boys volleyball players in the country, the Chiefs battled all the way back, stunning Boca to win their state quarterfinal match in a five-set thriller 16-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-10 at Golden Gate High School.
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Gibbons, which won a state title in 2005, advances to its first state semifinal since 2006 and will take on Lake Mary Saturday at 10 a.m.
“I don’t even know what’s going on right now, I can’t believe what we just did,” said Martin, who finished with six kills, 17 attacks and four blocked shots and, despite only being a junior has the likes of Princeton, Penn State, Pepperdine and UCLA looking to sign him.
“We just refused to lose. Somehow, someway, we dug down as far as we could dig and found a way to do this. It’s one thing to come back from 0-2 against anyone, it’s another to do it against a great team like Boca.”
Gibbons, (24-4), which lost a five-set regular season contest to Boca, couldn’t have gotten off to a more awful start, falling behind 15-2 in the first set before dropping it 25-16 and the second set as well.
“We’ve been working extremely hard the last few weeks on our mental toughness and the kids had to summon up every bit of it they had today,” said Gibbons head coach Mike Zarate. “Obviously nothing went right early on but I just tried to keep them calm and told them not to get rattled when things aren’t going our way.”
The Chiefs got things turned back in the right direction with a 25-17 win in the third setting up a tight fourth set that, with his team up 24-23, saw Andrew Bell come up with a huge block to close it.
Gibbons trailed 7-6 in the fifth set before going on a 5-0 run before ending the match.
▪ Killian d. Riviera Beach-Suncoast 25-21, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22: With painful memories of a crushing five-set loss to McCarthy a year ago in the state final, the Killian Cougars moved one step closer to getting back to that state final on Friday night as they battled to a tough four-set win over Riviera Beach Suncoast.
Killian advances to a state semifinal on Saturday and the challenge will be a big one as the Cougars take on 29-0 and No. 1 state-ranked Orlando Freedom at noon.
A win would put them in their second straight final against either Cardinal Gibbons or Lake Mary.
After leading the entire way in the first set, Killian (27-2) trailed Suncoast 20-16 in the second set and rallied for a 25-23 win. After perhaps taking their foot off the pedal in the fourth set, the Cougars broke loose from a 17-17 tie in the fourth with a 5-0 run to go up 22-17 paving the way for the win.
“It was just a matter of getting refocused after that third set,” said junior Jomar Mondestin who led the way for the Cougars with 22 kills. “Tomorrow is a big opportunity for us. We came so close last year and that’s all we’ve thought about all year is getting back and finishing it.”
▪ Orlando Freedom d. Ransom Everglades 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 15-11: Making only their second-ever appearance at the state tournament, the Raiders of Ransom Everglades gave it a game effort but came up just short dropping a five-set heartbreaker to No. 1 state ranked and undefeated Orlando Freedom.
The Raiders (21-6) came out strong, shocking the Patriots (29-0) by winning the first set marking the first time all year Freedom had dropped its first set.
Ransom had leads in both the second and third sets (17-15 and 18-16) but could not close it out either time as Freedom went on 10-4 and 9-3 runs, respectively to close the sets out. The Raiders won the fourth, pushing the match to a fifth and deciding set but fell behind 9-6 and never recovered.
Michael Colonna and Jake Rivlin dominated for Ransom, finishing with 28 and 20 kills, respectively.
“It was an up and down match,” said Ransom coach Mauricio Diaz. “The key might’ve been when we had the lead in those second and third sets and just could’ve close it out. We didn’t have the experience I guess to put it away.”
▪ Lake Mary d. South Broward 25-20, 25-11. 25-23: Three days after South Broward had come all the way back from a 0-2 deficit to stun Mourning in five sets in a state play-in match, the Bulldogs were fresh out of miracles on Friday afternoon as they were swept out of a state quarterfinal contest in straight sets by Lake Mary.
“We just made too many mistakes, and I guess part of that was maybe first-time-to-state jitters,” said South Broward coach Leo Jimenez whose team was making its third appearance at state but first since 2012. “Lake Mary is a great team but we certainly felt we were more than capable of beating them. Overall it was still a great season for us. Our goal was to win district and make it here and we got that done.”
South Broward (20-6) got off to a nice start, taking a 14-9 lead over the Rams (21-4) in the first set. But Lake Mary then went on a 13-2 run to go up 22-16 before closing out the first set and it was all downhill after that for the Bulldogs.
“We just made a lot of mental mistakes but it was our first time at states for everybody and just let it get to us,” said senior outside hitter Alex Sands who led the way for SB with 11 kills.
▪ Thurs. – Class 4A Region Semifinal: Westminster Christian 11, Westminster Academy 0: Adriana Otero 2-3, 2 2B, 5 RBI; Ashley Castano 2-2, 2B, BB, RBI; Maddie Hefty 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI. WP: Victoria Perez (12-3) 5 IP, 1 H, 5 K. WC 23-5.
▪ District 15-5A Championship: Monsignor Pace 4, iMater Charter 1: WP: Nick Fusco. LP: Angel Mediaville.
▪ Thursday – District 15-9A Championship: Columbus 5, Braddock 1: Kevin Acosta 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Danny Martin 2-4, RBI. WP: Chris Gonzalez (8-1) 9 K.
▪ Thurs. – District 16-9A Championship: South Dade 3, Palmetto 0: R.Sobalvarro (SD) 2-3, R; J.Brutti (SD) 2-2, BB, R, RBI; E Arteaga (P) 2-3. WP: JP Kenyon (4-1) CG, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K. LP: Andrew Schreiber 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 6 K. SD 13-11.
▪ Thursday – District 7-4A Semifinal: University School 10, Chaminade-Madonna 0: Buddy Hayward 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Sammy Guillorme 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI; Jack Schmidt 2-3, 2B. WP: Buddy Hayward 6 IP, 2 H, 5 K.
NOTE: The District 7-4A Championship game scheduled for Friday was rescheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at Calvary Christian in Fort Lauderdale.
▪ Thursday – District 15-1A Championship: Edison 13, Northwestern 0: Destiny Doughty 8 catches, 35 yds; Irenna Hines 5 rushes, 52 yds, TD, 4 flag pulls; Jaquala Brown 7 rushes, 62 yds, 14-20 passing, 128 yds, 2 INTs, 4 flag pulls; Brittany Julius 6 catches, 101 yds, TD, INT, 3 flag pulls; Chakeria Cooper 5 catches, 73 yds, 4 flag pulls; Nikesha Pierre 4 catches, 38 yds, 4 sacks, 3 flag pulls; Tatyana Fremont 14-18 passing, 139 yds, TD.
▪ Thursday – District 14-1A Championship: Norland 12, Pace 0: I.Jackson 7-9 passing, 62 yds; I.Jackson 4-24 yds rushing; C.Pressley 5-30 yds rushing; N.Mazyck 3-27 yds rushing; D.Stevens 5-47 yds receiving; D.Rolle 4-30 yds receiving; C.Pressley 5 tkls 2 INTs; D.Stevens 3tkls, INT, TD; L.Hodges 5 tkls; R.Maltin 3 tkls, 2 sacks; N.Mazyck 6 tkls; D.Rolle INT; D.Stevens 54-yd punt return for TD.
▪ Thursday – District 13-2A Championship: Cooper City 20, South Broward 19: Kimberly Slinkosky TD; Galya Vicnansky TD; Caitlin Dunn 2 TD passes.