Senior middle blocker Emily O’Neil had 11 blocks and six kills to lead Chaminade past district rival Pine Crest 25-20, 25-15 25-12 in the Class 4A regional semifinals Tuesday at Chaminade.
The victory gave O’Neil and the Lions (18-12) just what they wanted — another shot at Ransom Everglades on Saturday in a repeat of last year’s region final won by the Raiders.
“They knocked us out of the playoffs my freshman and junior year,” said O’Neil, a four-year starter for the Lions. “I was really looking forward to getting another shot at them.”
Sydney Armbrister added nine kills and six blocks, and Alyssa Osborn had 25 assists and 15 service points for Chaminade. Lauren Houle paced the Panthers (7-13) with five kills and five digs.
Freshman Simone Vreeland had six kills for Pine Crest.
“We blocked especially well,” Chaminade coach Jason Johnson said. “That really set the tone and got them off of their rhythm.”
For the third time in a row since that opening loss to Western, the Lightning (24-3) took care of Medlock and the visiting Wildcats, cruising to a semifinal sweep to advance to the Region 3-8A final.
Next up: a Saturday afternoon tilt at Jupiter (25-2) with a trip to the state semifinals on the line.
The Warriors ended the season of defending 8A state champion Boca Raton in four sets Tuesday night. Cypress Bay, which has yet to drop a set in the playoffs, has not been to the state final four in Lakeland since 2004.
"I know Jupiter beat Boca beat the defending state champions, but we strongly feel something good is going to happen with us," Cypress Bay coach Chris Guerra said. "We’re a hard working team. We have nothing in our way of stopping us from going to state. We have our goal and we want to reach it."
After Western jumped out to an 18-17 lead in the first set, back-to-back kills by senior Ari Slutzky changed the momentum and the Lightning reeled off eight consecutive points and never looked back.
"There was definitely a lot of adrenaline and I just really wanted to beat them," Slutzky said. "I guess against them my best comes out because of the rivalry."
Slutzky finished with a team-high 11 kills, one ace and a block. Senior outside hitter Cristina Finan had 10 kills, two digs and two blocks.
Junior middle hitter Rachel Tomasiello had seven kills, and junior Priscila Ertty had 33 assists and four kills to lead the way.
"They have a couple strong players, but we focused in on their main one, Amanda Medlock," Guerra said. "We knew she was going to get her points, get her kills. We just tried to shut her down early and it worked.
"Our blocking, our defense was incredible. That’s something we’ve really been stressing, keeping that ball alive. We have our frontline, our block and it’s a really good block right now. We’ve been working on that. If it gets past our frontline we have really good defenders. It’s a total team effort."
•Region 4-8A semifinal — West Broward d. Miami Beach 27-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-26:
Three years after coming up one win short of a state final-four berth, the West Broward girls’ volleyball team is going to get another shot.
Led by Alexi Deane, Samanta Arenas and Cassidy Bonito, the Bobcats defeated Miami Beach in four games at West Broward High School in the Region 4-8A semifinal.
West Broward improved to 19-7 and will host Ferguson in a Region 4-8A final Saturday afternoon at 2.
Deane (20 service points, 17 kills, 5 digs) and Arenas (18 kills, 10 digs) came through with solid performances but Bonito was especially impressive. The team’s setter, Bonito was forced to head for the ladies room during the third set when she fell ill.
Not coincidentally, Beach (13-5) came back to win the third game 25-22 and start to build momentum.
Bonito then emerged and put herself back on the floor to play the fourth game and her team led the entire way to win it 25-16 and close out the match.
“I started feeling a little light-headed,” said Bonito who finished with 38 assists, 8 service points, 2 blocks and 4 kills. “But once I took a break, I felt a little better and knew I had to find a way to get back out on the court to help my team. It’s exciting to get this win but now we need one more to get to state and that’s been our goal all year.”
“We were a little slow on our transition touches tonight but overall I thought the girls did a nice job,” said West Broward coach Corey Sarubbi. “The goal has been to get to state all year so we’ve got three more days of practice and one more team to see.”
Beach, making only its second-ever appearance in a regional semifinal, finished 13-5 and was led by Isabela Osorio with 20 kills, 28 digs and one block.
•Region 4-5A semifinal — Cardinal Gibbons d. Pompano Beach 17-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-16:
Host Cardinal Gibbons rallied after dropping the first game to Pompano Beach, ultimately prevailing in a Class 5A regional semifinal.
The Chiefs (22-7) will play at Bishop Moore in Orlando on Friday in a regional final.
The Tornadoes (22-5) took the early lead and kept the match close but would eventually succumb to their district rival. In the deciding game, the Chiefs opened up a 9-2 lead that proved insurmountable.
“We always know that it is going to be a challenge against Pompano,” coach Kathryn Reeber said. “They always come out ready to play and we know that.”
Reeber was particularly proud of her team’s ability to respond to the challenge.
“They have learned over the course of the season how to fight back,” she said. “That’s what they had to do tonight and they did it.”
Daniella Molinari and Laura Langsenkamp each had 12 kills and eight digs to lead the Chiefs. Molinari tallied four of her team-high 18 service points during the 9-2 run. Setter Sarah Martin had 18 assists and 10 digs.