Chaminade falters in final

Ransom Everglades outlasted tournament host Chaminade, a gritty team that played the final without three of its starters.

10/06/2013 12:01 AM

10/06/2013 1:04 AM

When Miami Ransom Everglades decided it was time to end Chaminade’s magical run to the Chaminade CM-Cares Volleyball Invitational finals, nobody stood taller than Ransom’s 6-1 star middle blocker Caroline Sklaver.

The upset-minded Lions, who have been ravaged by injuries, threw a scare into Ransom Everglades, but ultimately Sklaver’s dominance around the net in the pivotal second set sealed a 25-22, 25-17 victory at Chaminade on Saturday.

Sklaver, who earned Tournament MVP honors with a game-high 10 kills and 16 assists, played the key role in Ransom winning the title for the second consecutive year. She deferred credit to the overall team effort.

“When our defense and our serving picks up, we can win any game,’’ Sklaver said. “We had good, tough serves. We felt like we could pull through and attack and kill the zones that they were weak in.”

Nikki Colonna had 10 assists and four kills and Lisette Tellez added 11 digs, including some of the highlight reel variety, for a Ransom (16-3) team that looks poised for a state final four return.

From the pink balloons that floated around the Chaminade gym, to the black T-Shirts inscribed with “Dig Pink,” Ransom players wore and the pink Pro Keds sneakers one official sported, a unified show of support for the tournament, which raises funds for cancer research, was everywhere.

That Chaminade made it to the finals is a testament to the team’s resilience as injuries mounted.

When outstanding middle blocker Sydney Armbrister was ruled out of the finals with soreness in her hamstring she became the third starter, including Emily O’Neill, the Miami Herald’s 2012 Broward Player of the Year who has been out all season with a shoulder injury, to be sidelined.

“We have been battling through this for a little bit with the kid’s injuries, being in and out of the lineup,’’ Lions coach Jason Johnson said. “I’m trying to get them to fight for every single point and understand they will have to battle and forget the talent level. If we’re at full strength or not we still have to fight every point.”

Behind that rallying cry, the Lions went on a 11-1 run to fight back from a 17-7 deficit in the first set and subsequently went up 20-19 when Jacqui Koebel finessed in a score between two Ransom players.

But Ransom closed out the first set and then Sklaver used her size advantage to blast a return for a quick 6-1 lead in the second set.

Chaminade cut the deficit to 12-10 in one last attempt to keep its unlikely run alive before Sklaver closed out the Lions for good.

Sklaver put Ransom up 18-11, and then secured a 2-0 mark against the Lions this season with a game-winning spike.

“This is really a tribute for the girls that left last year,’’ Sklaver said. “They really set it up for us. We really wanted to win it again for them. We might come up against Chaminade in regionals so it was a good practice. It’s always hard to beat teams twice.”

Sklaver, Colonna and Tellez were joined on the all-tournament team with Miami Palmer Trinity’s Dani Littke, West Broward’s Sam Arenas, Archbishop McCarthy’s Katie McInnis, Fort Myers Riverdale’s Chenelle Walker and Vero Beach’s Alexandra Lilliquist.

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