Royal Palm Beach falls in volleyball regional final
Saturday, November 10, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Any time a two-time state champion with eight state-tournament appearances and four 6-footers on its roster strolls into a gymnasium, the opponent's bound to think twice.
That Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas played so well above the net only made it worse, as host Royal Palm Beach saw its surprising postseason run end in the regional finals Saturday in a 25-16, 25-18, 25-10 loss to the visiting Raiders.
But the learning experience far outweighed the result for Royal Palm Beach, which loses only two seniors from its roster. With district realignment on its way this offseason, there could be a completely different route to the state championships in Kissimmee next season, one that potentially wouldn't include Aquinas.
"We're young," Royal Palm Beach Sal Ciano said. "We'll be back next year. But hey, there are some good girls over there. We're just not that tall. We got pretty far for the team we have. We play good defense."
Royal Palm Beach (17-12) started the second game strong, taking a 5-1 lead and it still was tied at 15 before Aquinas rolled off 10 of the final 13 points to take a commanding lead.
There would be no comeback like the one that saw the Wildcats overcome a first-game loss in the regional semifinal against West Boca Raton. The final game merely followed the motions of a match already decided, with Aquinas overwhelming Royal Palm Beach at the net.
Freshman Bailey Williams had 10 kills and four digs for Royal Palm Beach and juniors Bayley Cook (12 assists, six digs) and Brianne Cook (eight kills, seven digs, seven assists) made positive contributions for the Wildcats.
"You'd have to be crazy not to be disappointed," Ciano said. "One game away from states? It's matching up against the right opponent, and this is not the right opponent for us."
Boca Raton d. Davie-Western 25-7, 27-10, 25-17: Ruth Harrington had eight kills, nine digs and 10 service points and Libby Vilmar added 34 assists and 10 service points to lead the Bobcats (29-1) to the sweep of the Wildcats (15-8) in Davie. The Bobcats will face Lake Mary in Tuesday's state semifinals in Kissimmee.
Jensen Beach d. Naples-Lely 25-6, 25-11, 25-11: Evin Foster had 13 kills, 11 assists and eight service points and Meghan Conway added nine kills, 12 service points and 11 digs to lead the Falcons (24-5) past the Trojans (16-13) in Jensen Beach. The Falcons will face St. Johns-Bartram Trail in Wednesday's state semifinals.
Lake Worth Christian d. Sarasota Christian 25-22, 25-27, 25-18, 25-13: Meagan Milligan had 21 kills, eight blocks and eight service points and Amanda King added eight kills, eight blocks and 27 assists to lead the Defenders (26-3) past the Blazers (15-6) in Sarasota. Kristen Reid contributed six kills and 43 digs for the Defenders, who will face Tallahassee-John Paul II in Thursday's state semifinals.