Anxious for another shot at district rival Westminster Christian, the Palmer Trinity girls’ volleyball team could not afford to take anything for granted Tuesday night.
And it didn’t.
The Falcons went to Miami Country Day School for a Region 8-3A quarterfinal matchup and faced an upset-minded Spartans team, but there would be no upset on this evening as Palmer Trinity rolled to a 25-15, 25-22, 25-11 victory in straight sets.
And after Westminster’s straight-set win over Sagemont, the stage is set for the seventh consecutive regional semifinal meeting between the two programs dating to 2007. The match will be Nov. 5 at Westminster.
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Palmer won the first three matchups, but Westminster has won the last three regional semifinals. The Warriors also won the two previous meetings this season in straight sets, including last weeks district final.
“We definitely played well [Tuesday] and now we have to try and carry that over into next week,” said sophomore Grace Hibschman, who recorded seven kills and three blocks to lead her team. “I think the key against Westminster next week will be to try and get off to a good start early because that always helps your confidence.”
As far as Tuesday night’s match was concerned, the Falcons had little trouble with confidence in the first set, winning easily. But they found themselves down 20-13 in the second.
With the momentum with Country Day (17-9), the Falcons (15-6) responded with a 12-2 run to close out the set with Ellie Nosich (15 kills, four blocks, 26 digs) putting the finishing touches on it with two thunderous kill shots. That all but ended the issue as the Spartans, who have never won a regional playoff game in 15 tries including 11 consecutive first-round exits, played the third set clearly looking like a team that had seen an opportunity slip away.
“Coming back to win that second set was definitely the key point tonight,” Palmer coach William Gonzalez said. “You could see how hard it was for them [Country Day] to play that third set so we knew we had it when we made that comeback.”
Ashley Quero (four kills, seven blocks) and Danielle Littke (35 assists, six digs, two aces) also contributed to the Falcons’ win, while Brooke Pumo (seven kills) and Adriana Vivas (13 digs) led the Spartans.
•Westminster Christian d. Sagemont 25-9, 25-5, 25-13:
Kat Salgado recorded 11 kills and two blocks and Jenny Ceballos added 10 kills and seven digs to lead Westminster (24-4). Kelsey Taylor also registered 21 assists, three kills and six digs, while Jess Moo Young had four aces.