Depth is what has made Westminster Christian’s volleyball team one of the best in the state the past two seasons.
When one of its stars struggles, another often picks up the slack.
But having all four of its core seniors putting up big numbers at the same time is what the Warriors need to bring home that elusive state championship.
Westminster Christian got that production Tuesday to get past rival Palmer Trinity 25-14, 25-17, 23-25, 25-14 in a Region 4-3A semifinal at the Warriors’ home gym.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
It was the eighth consecutive season the two teams met in the playoffs.
Senior and University of Miami commitment Sylvia Hernandez finished with 14 kills and 20 digs. Senior Jenny Ceballos had 25 kills. Junior Sammy Ceballos had 14 kills and four aces. Setter Kelsey Taylor had 60 assists and six aces and senior libero Susie Forbes had 29 digs. Senior Kat Salgado had 15 kills.
Westminster Christian (25-4) will travel to face North Palm Beach Benjamin on Saturday in the regional finals and attempt to advance to the state final four for the third consecutive season.
“I feel like we’re getting the contributions we need from everyone,” Westminster Christian coach Julie Doan said. “Kelsey is distributing the ball well, and it doesn’t allow teams to key on one player. We’ve been working really hard on that.”
The Warriors’ ability to spread the ball around the court and keep the Falcons’ blockers off balance helped them cruise to wins in the first two games.
Palmer Trinity made some adjustments, and behind Danielle Littke and Ashley Quero countered to take Game 3.
Westminster Christian established its dominance behind precise serving in the fourth to take the match.
“All of our girls are getting a couple of kills here and a couple there and it’s been adding up,” Doan said. “Other than dropping a set, we couldn’t ask for a better performance tonight. It’s a credit to Palmer because they’re a very good team.”
•Region 4-6A semifinal — TERRA d. Mourning 25-15, 25-17, 25-15
: Long rallies, aces and spikes amounted to an endless arsenal of points for TERRA in its victory over host Mourning.
“In the first game, they left their heart out on the court,” TERRA coach Vladimir Prado said. “I told them we have to go there and it’s going to be a tough game on their court. Stand up and play your best. It’s the first time we are getting to regionals.”
Brooke McDermott led the Wolves (25-1) with 17 kills, three aces and two blocks. Mirel Peñas had eight kills, three assists and three aces, and Katelyn Barrow had 18 assists.
Mary Shelow sparked the Sharks (20-3) with 10 kills, two aces and a block. Libero Amanda Rey had two kills, two aces, two assists and three digs in the loss.
“We know a couple of those girls,” Mourning coach Dee Rey said. “They play club and one is committed to University of Miami [McDermott] and UCF is looking at another. Club here in the north isn’t as prevalent as it is down south. We are trying to make our program here strong enough to handle the teams from down south.”
TERRA hosts Jensen Beach at 2 p.m. Saturday in the regional final.
•Region 4-4A semifinal — Ransom d. Gulliver 25-13, 19-25, 25-10, 25-21 :
Playing above the net all night, Ransom Everglades beat Gulliver. .
After a dominant first set, Ransom sleepwalked through the second with 17 unforced errors to allow Gulliver to even the match but then regained its focus. A combination of Gulliver errors and alternating spikes from Caroline Sklaver and Nikki Colonna helped Ransom cruise in the third.
"[Colonna] is the best hitter I’ve ever had. I love working with her," Sklaver said. "We can beat teams out of the middle because it’s usually a weaker position of other teams."
The fourth set saw the two teams locked up at 20 before Ransom scored five of the last six points, capped off by an emphatic kill by Sklaver to wrap it up.
"I went up. I wanted to kill it," said Sklaver, who finished with 18 kills and 21 assists.
Colonna, a Lynn University commitment, registered 25 assists and 12 kills while Terre Bernace added 19 digs.
Ransom (27-3) advanced to the regional finals to face Chaminade on Saturday.
Gulliver (15-15) was led by seven digs, five kills and three assists from Vero Balli. Cat Arnholt had 23 assists and seven digs and Caro Mengotti pitched in four kills and 10 digs.
•Region 4-8A — Ferguson d. Lourdes 25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 30-28:
Ferguson defeated Lourdes and will play West Broward for a chance to earn a trip to the state tournament.
After winning the first two sets, the Falcons (23-6) appeared to be headed towards a sweep. But the Bobcats (22-5), led by outside hitter Michelle Marenus and her match-high 22 kills, stormed back to win the third set and took an 18-11 lead at one point in the fourth.
The Falcons fought back to tie it late in the fourth set and after both teams exchanged numerous match points, opposite hitter Dominique Barnes delivered her fifth and final block to give Ferguson a 30-28 win to end the match.
“We’ve been battling all year long,” Falcons coach Greg Shanower said of his team’s battles with Lourdes. “I told them it was going to take heart to win this game and they pulled through in the end.”
Opposite hitters Daniela Diaz and Michelle Cuervo, both freshmen, led the offensive charge for the Falcons. Diaz finished with a team-high 16 kills in the win while Cuervo added 13 kills and 25 digs.
• Region 4-2A semifinal — Divine Savior d. Princeton Christian, 25-7, 25-14, 25-15: Divine Savior will travel to play either Sheridan Hills Christian or Boca Raton Christian Saturday in the regional finals.
•Region 4-2 A semifinal — Sheridan Hills d. Boca Christian 25-29, 16-25, 26-24, 25-20:
For SH: McCluskey 32 kills, 4 points, 24 digs, 3 blocks.