Girls volleyball: Boca Raton to play for state title
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Midway through the fourth set of Tuesday's Class 8A state semifinal at Silver Spurs Arena, one team smiled and cheered and exchanged high fives as the other squad looked concerned.
A casual fan would've never guessed that Lake Mary, despite its collective caution, was just six points away from beating Boca Raton.
But Boca's positive energy took hold in that critical moment, helping the Bobcats rally to win the fourth set and eventually defeat the Rams 25-20, 12-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-8. With the win, Boca advanced to the first state-title match in program history, an 8 p.m. date Wednesday with the winner of Tuesday's late match between Miami-Coral Reef and Winter Park.
"We were fearless," said senior outside hitter Ruth Harrington, who was a freshman starter on Boca's 2009 team that lost in the state semifinals to Winter Park. "(Lake Mary was) playing not to make mistakes. We were playing to win."
Boca Raton (30-1) started out that way, racing to a 15-10 lead in the first set before holding on 25-20 in businesslike fashion. But the Bobcats lost their focus after that, noticeably falling out of sync as Lake Mary cruised in the second and third sets.
Lake Mary led early in that fourth set, too, taking a 13-12 lead. Boca took an 18-15 lead but relinquished the next four points. Every point after that was tense as Boca staged its comeback.
"It seems like they, with every point, got a little more energy and a little more life," Lake Mary coach Brandon East said. "They kept us on our heels the whole time. We couldn't really recover."
Harrington totaled 24 kills and nine digs for Boca.
"She's been in that environment before," Bobcats coach Amanda Angermeier said of Harrington. "She knew how to deal with that type of pressure."
Charlotte Earnhart had 11 kills, and Katie LaPorte added nine kills of her own. Setter Libby Vilmar had 61 assists, and libero Sydney Kantor tallied 33 digs.
The first, fourth and fifth sets were team efforts, the kind that give Angermeier confidence that if her team plays that well Wednesday night, it could be state champions.
And that would be a much better result than the last trip Angermeier and the Bobcats made to Kissimmee.
"We told our girls that volleyball is a mental sport," Angermeier said. "Energy means a lot. We showed that we wanted it more, on our faces and in everything we did."