Nickson blocks fuel Panthers’ district surge

By Randy Lefko
Posted 9/12/18

ORANGE PARK – Ridgeview High middle hitter Devinn Nickson is fairly new to varsity level volleyball; fairly new to facing a six foot plus opposing hitter across from her and also fairly new at …

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Nickson blocks fuel Panthers’ district surge

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Ridgeview High middle hitter Devinn Nickson is fairly new to varsity level volleyball; fairly new to facing a six foot plus opposing hitter across from her and also fairly new at being the focal point of her team’s attack and defense scheme.

The 5’-8” Nickson, with two thunderous blocks on Orange Park’s 6’-2” Avery Kinlaw, kicked off a fifth game 15-7 Panther win that led to a hard-fought 3-2 match win for Ridgeview over district 4-6A rival Orange Park High Sept. 6 at the Panthers Den.

“I don’t know, I just thought I have to get up there and compete with her,” said Nickson, who also got a service ace for the Panthers to push the score to 6-2 before outside hitter Kaelye Kellar pounded two hard scoring hits to score the game 9-3.

Nickson fifth game heroics seemed to ignite the Panther defense with Saige Rivers also blocking an Orange Park salvo from Amanda Rodriguez before Kellar’s two smashes; one off Rodriguez, the second off Kalli Winder.

For Ridgeview High coach Destiny Brightman, a reminder to her Panther team that they were part of three consecutive district titles, was enough to wake up the dormant attack after both teams exchanged 25-20 wins in games one and two, then put down scores of 25-20 for the Raiders and 25-18 for the Panthers to set up the fifth game.

“In game four, I reminded them that this school is a three time district champion program and they better start living up to that,” said Brightman, who bested the Raiders in 2016 for the district title. “We have a lot of new players and have to get that game rhythm soon before the district starts sizing us up. Orange Park is very good and will be right up there with us at the end of the season.”

In game one, Ridgeview pulled away from a close game that stayed within a point; 19-18, until field errors by the Raiders and a final scoring shot from Aubrey Brown gave Ridgeview the 25-20 win.

In game two, Orange Park turned an 11-11 tie to an 18-14 edge off alternate scoring shots from Kinlaw and blocks from Sydney Breu at the net as the Raiders surged to the 25-20 win with Kinlaw winning a net battle with Nickson for the Raiders’ 23rd point. Kinlaw led the Raiders with 12 scoring shots on the night that added to her team-leading 59 for the season. Raider teammate Lauren Ellis added 11 against Ridgeview with 45 for the season.

The Raiders surged off a 9-9 game score to push to a 21-16 score en route to the 25-20 win with Amanda Rodriguez using some finesse to score off touches over the outstretched hands of Nickson and Saige Rivers for Ridgeview.

In the fourth game, Ridgeview stormed away from an early 5-5 tie score as Kellar got hot from her outside hitter slot with sets from Mackenzie Sutton moving the ball quickly away from Kinlaw’s block attempts.

Ridgeview libero Ashlyn Holford finished off the fourth game with hard sets that pushed the Raider defense as the Panthes put a 4-0 scoring surge to win 25-18.

Both teams stay in district 4-6 play with Wolfson visiting Ridgeview on September 11 and Orange Park hosting Baker County on September 13.

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