Ransom Everglades will face a tough road in its bid to repeat as Class 4A state girls’ volleyball champions.
But performances and learning experiences like this weekend at the Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna Cares Invitational should help the Raiders along the path.
After scoring four quality victories over two days, Ransom advanced to the Gold bracket final of the tournament for the third consecutive season.
But the Raiders fell in the championship match 25-22, 23-25, 15-9 to Class 3A powerhouse Clearwater Central Catholic.
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But Ransom coach Roger Peluso, whose team beat Naples Barron Collier in the semifinals, and beat Lourdes, Wellington and Coral Springs Charter in pool play on Friday, thinks the Raiders may be hitting their stride with the postseason three weeks away.
“We’ve had a few growing pains this season, but it’s good that we can learn from them now and have it all come together by playoff time,” Peluso said.
Caroline Sklaver had 11 kills, 12 assists and three blocks, and Sophia Carrera-Justiz had nine kills and 11 digs in the championship match to lead Ransom (14-4). Each earned all-tournament honors.
The Raiders also benefited from the return of Sophie Bullard, who had missed the previous three weeks with an ankle injury.
“It was a different dynamic when Sophie was out,” Peluso said. “Getting her back will help, but it’s also allowed a lot of other kids to step in and help out.”
One such contributor was freshman Sydney Bent, who has maintained a high kill percentage on Ransom’s attack this season. As an eighth-grader, Bent was a pivotal part of Ransom’s run to its first state title since 1990.
The Raiders will have to navigate a tough district against improved Carrollton and Gulliver and a region that includes Chaminade-Madonna, Pine Crest and Calvary Christian.
One more test for Ransom will come in two weeks when it hosts the Smoothie King Invitational — a tournament that typically invites some of the state’s best to compete.
Not even a rain-soaked Chain of Lake Park course could cool down Pine Crest’s seventh grade runner Tsion Yared, who won the flrunners.com Invitational Race of Champions title in 18:33 in Titusville. Yared beat Sinclaire Johnson, Lake Brantley’s runner-up, by 16 seconds. Pine Crest’s Julia Montgomery finished sixth in 19:08 to help the Panthers win the girls’ team title with an 19:51 average.
Miami Belen Jesuit held up as favorites in the Boys’ Race of Champions behind individual champion Ryan Rodriguez (15:39).
▪ Race of Champions —1. Belen 63, 6. Pine Crest 246, 15. Douglas 327: 1. Ryan Rodriguez (BEL) 15:39.81, 7. Joel Lacy (CC) 16:24.99, 13. Gabriel Correa (RE) 16:35.28, 18. Anthony Ramcharran (DOU) 16:41.28, 23. Michael Kennedy (PC) 16:55.02.
▪ Race of Champions—Pine Crest 107, Lake Mary 203, Oak Hall 204, Chamberlain 240, Merritt Island 249, Dr. Phillips 254, Lourdes 257, Columbia 258, Timber Creek 267, Ransom Everglades 277, Westminster Christian 279: 1. Tsion Yared (PC) 18:33.07, 2. Sinclaire Johnson (LB) 18:49.24, 3. Fatema Jaffer (LM) 18:49.93, 4. Autumn Bartlett (US) 19:00.65, 5. Julie Wollrath (MEL) 19:05.76, 6. Julia Montgomery (PC) 19:08.59, 7. Alexandra Melehan (WS) 19:09.17, 8. Emily Headley (OL) 19:17.61, 9. Alyssa Pujals (GP) 19:21.22, 10. Devin Molloy (BC) 19:23.28, 11. Maggie Parrish (CH) 19:24.43, 12. Hannah Brookover (CC) 19:26.50, 13. Lindsay Rosenberg (OH) 19:29.92, 14. Lauren Archer (RE) 19:31.44.
▪ Asics Challenge (Chicago, IL)—Mother McAuley (IL) d. St. Thomas Aquinnas (25-20, 25-18): Allison Marble 6 kills, 2 digs, ace, 2 points.
▪ Asics Challenge (Chicago, IL)—St. Thomas Aquinnas d. New Port Harbor (CA) (25-19, 30-28): Emma Dixon 7 kills, block, 4 digs, 5 points.
▪ Asics Challenge (Chicago, IL)—St. Thomas d. St. Francis (IL) (22-25, 27-25, 25-20): Nikki Lyons 10 kills, 8 digs, 4 blocks, ace, 5 points. Kara Mason 10 kills, 17 digs, 2 blocks, ace, 3 points. STA 17-4.
▪ MAST Academy d. Mater Lakes Academy (25-19, 25-23,22-25, 25-22): Mia Boloix 50 digs, 19 kills, 5 aces. MAST 8-4.
▪ Qdoba Tournament of Champions—American Heritage 577, Ponte Vedra 594, Circle Christian 595 (at Providence GC Par 72): Tyler Strafaci (AH) 67, Jorge Garcia (AH) 69, Kristian Caparros (AH) 70, Matt Mourin (AH) 75.