OAKLEAF – With one top hitter sitting out game one for discipline and another out for game five with an injury, the Oakleaf High Lady Knights volleyball team got a standout performance from senior …
OAKLEAF – With one top hitter sitting out game one for discipline and another out for game five with an injury, the Oakleaf High Lady Knights volleyball team got a standout performance from senior Alexa Ward with a triple double statistics package to earn their first-ever win, by a 3-2 score, over Fleming Island High Thursday night at Oakleaf High School.
“We talked a lot about believing this week in practice,” said Oakleaf coach Jennifer Meyer, who had a double helping of emotion with the win and also a fourth game concussion to daughter Bryanna Parrett that pulled her from the critical game five lineup. “The worst enemy of any athlete is doubt. The rest of the team stepped up.”
Ward, who loomed as the third hitter for Oakleaf for the season, stepped up with 12 kills, 19 assists and 14 digs to push the Knights into position for the big district win.
“All three of my middles were playing hard tonight,” said Meyer, who lost a 3-0 match to Middleburg on Mon., Oct. 3.
As district tournaments loom in mid-October, Oakleaf High took a significant step in putting themselves in the conversation as a legit playoff hopeful with the win. The Lady Knights still have two more district games scheduled; district leader Bartram Trail on October 3 and 2016 region finalist Creekside on October 5, with the Knights already defeating Creekside 3-0 in their first meeting. Bartram Trail took out Oakleaf 3-0 in that first match two weeks ago. Fleming Island has the lone district victory over Bartram Trail. Buchholz’s lone district loss is to Bartram Trail.
Fleming Island was rebounding from a rugged four-game tournament at Jacksonville’s JJVA tournament where the Golden Eagles won over district 3-7A champion St. Augustine, district 4-6A champion Ridgeview and 1A-Branford before losing in the tournament final to unbeaten New Smyrna Beach (15-0), a top Class 7A team that lost to Ocala Vanguard in the state semifinals last year.
Against Fleming Island, the stage was set for a rugged match as top hitter Challaya Campbell sat on the bench in game one as the Lady Knights fell behind by as much as 18-12, but came back to tie the game at 24-24 before falling 28-26.
“I saw how hard the girls played in that game one and I wanted to get in there and contribute as much as I could,” said Campbell. “I realized that my team had my back and I had to return that.”
Fleming Island seemed ready to hold off the Knights’ charge with senior Emily Charbonneau exacting three big scoring shots in the final points of game one. Charbonneau was top scorer on the night with 18 scoring shots. Charbonneau has 200 kills for the season.
In game two, with Campbell in and bolstering the net defense, the Knights rolled to a quick 13-6 lead with Campbell
registering two blocks and igniting the Oakleaf defense. Fleming Island’s front attack seemed neutralized by the defensive play on the back line of senior Andrea Merced and sophomore Bryanna Parrett, who also finished with 12 kills and 14 digs on the night.
Oakleaf won game two 25-16, but Fleming Island surged to a 17-10 lead in game three looking to put away the Knights with their experience on the net. Fleming Island would bounce the Knights 25-14 in game three to take a 2-1 lead.
In game three, the score stayed tight throughout with Oakleaf inching ahead at 20-17 behind a block and kill from Campbell before Parrett made a dive for a back line ball close to the gym wall and crashed head first into the padding causing a short pause in the action.
“We had to play the fourth game for Bry,” said Oakleaf senior Andrea Merced. “We wanted the win for school history. We only beat them one game last year.”
With Parrett now out, the Oakleaf team roared to life with a run to a 25-19 win to force the overtime game.
With freshman Jalana Hope in as a third net presence for the Knights, Oakleaf pushed to a 10-6 lead in the final game with Hope getting a block and kill around two scores from Ward.
In the second half of the game, Oakleaf stalled with missed opportunities from Kaitland Myer, Hope and Campbell giving life to the Golden Eagle front line, led now by Jillian Jackson, who had seven kills, and Erin Lebesch, who finished with 10 kills, at the net.
A block by Lebesch and Madison Mas tied the game at 14-14, but Oakleaf held on with a scoring shot from Campbell to win 16-14.
Fleming Island has finished their district schedule and travels to Middleburg on October 3 with Keystone Heights visiting October 10.
Oakleaf played and lost a 3-0 match to 7A-Middleburg on Monday with Middleburg’s Mallory Roney hitting for 14 scoring kills with Jillian Bemis, Britany Range and Alaina Collamati all hitting for three blocks at the net.
In district 5-6A, Clay has one more shot at Menendez on Tuesday with Menendez at 5-2 and Clay at 4-2. The Lady Blue Devils then get a second shot at district leader Ponte Vedra (5-0) on Thursday. Ponte Vedra is ranked ninth in 6A with Menendez 11th. Clay is ranked 20th.