Lake Worth Christian headed for familiar turf; Summit Christian seeking first trip to states
Friday, November 12, 2010
by Paul Ivice
For Lake Worth Christian, it's like déjà vu; for Summit Christian, it's a whole new experience.
Both teams play at home Saturday in the volleyball regional finals, with a state tournament berth on the line.
Lake Worth Christian (26-3) faces Miami Christian (19-6) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Boynton Beach, where they swept the Victors a year ago to earn a 14th state tournament appearance, though they have yet to claim a state title.
Simultaneously, Summit Christian (19-8) will host St. Petersburg-Canterbury (26-6). A win would send Summit Christian to its first state tournament.
If both teams win through, they would face each other in the state championship game Nov. 18 in Lakeland, but neither coach is ready to think about that, preferring to focus on the task at hand.
"We have an ultimate goal, but to reach that goal you play one match at a time and take away from each match some knowledge," said Terri Kaiser, Lake Worth Christian's coach for more than two decades. "It's not just winning, it's learning."
Though this is Summit Christian's first regional final, coach Alicia Hobson has been through it before. Hobson coached King's Academy to a state championship in 2006 and was runner-up the following year.
She said she has told her team about her state tournament experiences, but "they need to get there on their own drive, not mine."
With each step closer to the state's final four, the Saints have stepped up their play, Hobson said.
"They're all playing better at the right time," she said "They're making fewer mental errors. They're all doing their jobs and taking it seriously."
Hobson said this team is better than last year's squad, which lost 19-17 in the fifth game of the regional semifinal, because "they realize they can do it now. They believe in themselves."
The Saints come to the regional final at full strength, but that's not true of the Defenders.
Sophomore middle blocker Meagan Milligan has been out since she sprained an ankle in the regional quarterfinal Nov. 3.
"We just rearranged our line," Kaiser said. "We've had two weeks of practice to adjust, though as a coach you don't want to."
Milligan's injury is the latest in a series of hurdles the team has overcome that included the death two weeks ago of Kaiser's younger sister, who was close to the team. "We've been playing very well and remaining upbeat," Kaiser said. "The girls have stayed strong and consistent."
Kaiser said she's done what she can to prepare the Defenders, including a difficult schedule.
One of Lake Worth Christian's three losses was to two-time defending champion South Dayton-Warner Christian, which has knocked the Defenders out of the state tournament each of the past two years.
"We played really tough competition outside of our area that we know we're going to face," Kaiser said.
"They're communicating very well," Kaiser said of her team. "They all recognize their individual roles and know they have to focus on that to accomplish the team goal."