One year after coming so close, only to suffer a heartbreaking loss in the state championship final, the Killian boys’ volleyball team found a way to finish it off Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars, less than two hours after battling through an epic semifinal five set win over No. 1-ranked Orlando Freedom, summoned up enough energy to get back out on the court and take out Lake Mary in straight sets 25-19, 26-24, 25-22 in the state championship game at Golden Gate High in Naples.
And in the process, they sent their longtime coach Clinton Reid off into the sunset in style. After 22 years of coaching volleyball at Miami Springs and Killian, Reid announced earlier this year it would be his last and now he will go out wearing a championship ring.
“I’m just so proud of these boys,” said Reid who watched his team squander a 2-1 lead to McCarthy and lose in five sets for the title a year ago. “To go through the heartbreak that they went through last year and to have the mental toughness to dedicate themselves to get all the way back here and finish it off says everything you need to know about them. Me? Sure it’s great and a great way to go out but this was always less about me than it was about those boys over there.”
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The Cougars’ win marks the first state title of any kind for the school since the boys’ tennis team won a championship in 2005. Killian became the first boys’ volleyball team to win state since Southwest in 2008.
“I’m not even sure what to call this feeling right now,” said junior outside hitter Jomar Mondestin who had six kills and 14 attacks. “Ever since coming so close last year, we’ve wanted to do this not only for ourselves but Coach Reid.”
Killian only made it to the final thanks to a dramatic five-set thriller over Freedom in an earlier semifinal 19-25, 25-13, 25-20, 25-27, 15-11. The Cougars had a match point in the fourth set at 24-23 but could not put the Patriots away. They then jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the fifth before Freedom battled back to cut it to 12-11.
▪ State semifinal — Lake Mary d. Cardinal Gibbons 10-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19: Less than 18 hours after an emotional and dramatic comeback win against previously unbeaten Boca Raton in a quarterfinal match, the Cardinal Gibbons boys endured the despair of a loss they probably didn’t see coming.
The Chiefs (23-5) took the court against Lake Mary in a Saturday morning state semifinal at Golden Gate High School brimming with momentum from the comeback win over Boca. And it carried over to the first set when Gibbons came flying out of the gate to win 25-10.
And then it all went south. Lake Mary (22-4) took an early lead in the second set and never looked back for the next hour, winning the next three setsto eliminate Gibbons 3-1 and dash their dreams of a second state title, matching the one from 2005.