Cardinal Gibbons has learned to deal with injuries all season, with key contributors stepping and filling key roles.
On Tuesday night, coach Kathryn Reeber was able to play her entire roster and win without much opposition 25-8, 25-5, 25-14 against visiting Melbourne Palm Bay in a Region 4-5A girls’ volleyball quarterfinal.
Laura Langsenkamp led the Chiefs (21-7) with 16 aces, several of which came during a 19-0 surge that put the second game away — and essentially the match.
Gibbons will host Pompano Beach next Tuesday in the regional semifinals. The Chiefs lead the season series 3-0.
“Everyone got to play and that’s good because you never know when you’re going to need any of your players to step up,” Reeber said. “Getting through injuries has been the hardest thing to deal with this season, but the girls have done a great job of stepping up.”
Gibbons lost its top player entering the season, Julia Howard, to a torn ACL, forcing Reeber to move Ali Jacobs from her defensive specialist position to more of an outside hitter role. Gibbons suffered another injury Tuesday when reserve Maggie Macek rolled her ankle at the start of the third game and did not return.
Gibbons persevered, however.
Jacobs has helped Gibbons’ attack up front, which got little resistance from Palm Bay. Langsenkamp also finished with five kills, 30 service points and five digs.
Kassie Akouri-Tejedor finished with 24 assists, two kills, two aces and two digs. Franci Sequani totaled nine kills, two digs and two blocks.
St. Thomas (26-2) never trailed, thanks to precise setting by Mackenzie Zielinski, who finished with 34 assists and three aces. Kara Mason finished with 10 kills and three digs. Kaylie McHugh had seven digs. Alliyah McBean had five aces.
Aquinas will host Doral Ronald Reagan, which beat Nova on Tuesday, in the regional semifinals next Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Aquinas coach Lisa Zielinski said she and her coaching staff have intensified practices to keep her team focused, even against potential competition in which it will be considered favorites.
“As any playoff we can’t take any team or match lightly, and you have to play your best,” Zielinski said. “Right now, I think the girls are getting that message. But it’s definitely the challenge for the next couple of weeks as we get closer to [a trip to the state finals].”
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