FLEMING ISLAND – For 2018, Clay Today sports editor Randy Lefko and his band of sports writers and photographers offer up a SUPER 11 team for fall sports volleyball, swimming, cross country, …
FLEMING ISLAND – For 2018, Clay Today sports editor Randy Lefko and his band of sports writers and photographers offer up a SUPER 11 team for fall sports volleyball, swimming, cross country, football and golf with the notion that, with the Clay Today team venturing to play out of county, who would we want to be our team members. Statistics, coach comments and our own observations from covering an array of games throughout the season, will be the basis for all SUPER 11 teams.
Fleming Island, with a region finals berth, had one of the toughest schedules throughout the state and played, at times, brilliantly, with wins over Nease, New Smyrna Beach and Ponte Vedra in regular season play, but still dealt with the aura of Bartram Trail with inconsistency. In the district final, a bruising loss. In the region semifinal, a dominant win. In the region final, a dismal dismantling by Tallahassee Leon.
Fleming Island flew on the wings of junior Rayna Durden with her high-flying thunderbolts executed with a top-drawer 50/50 success rate as the main scoring threat for coach Amy Walker. Setter Kailey DePaula was consistent throughout the year combined with great defensive plays from sophomore Jangelyz Ramirez in the libero slot.
The success of Fleming Island came from the Ramirez to DePaula to Durden combination. If all three were precise, Fleming Island won.
In the same district as Fleming Island, Oakleaf opened on fire with three wins in four games, including Orange Park, Keystone Heights and St. Johns Country Day School, but the Lady Knights could not hold pace despite spirited play from junior Briana Parrett at the net.
“Bry is the ‘firecracker’of our team,” said Oakleaf coach Jennifer Meyer. “She is underestimated for being so little but she doesn’t let that stop her. She is the type of player that will go after any ball without hesitation.”
Middleburg emerged with a district title against nemesis Nease High, but fell in
excruciating fashion 3-2 to Ocala Forest in region play. The Lady Broncos lineup was not size-strong, but battled among coach Carrie Prewitt’s rugged schedule with a lineup much shorter than most of the Broncos’ opponents. Led by seniors Mallory Roney and Jillian Bemis who not only patrolled the net, but, in most games, stayed in and executed plays from the defensive line, the setter’s position and as blockers.
“Mallory was nothing short of incredible this season,” said Prewitt. “She was the player that was set when we needed the kill and as the season progressed, her value on our team increased. We adjusted our game strategy to increase her opportunity to pass and hit more balls.”
Roney and Bemis were truly the multifaceted talent of the Broncos attack with junior Britany Range punching up the most blocks in the county.
“Jillian was no doubt a cornerstone of our team,” said Prewitt. “Jillian ran our offense with the experience of a veteran setter. She created splits in the block and set selections that put us in the best positions to succeed.”
Ridgeview achieved an unprecedented fourth straight district title with two key players injured in midseason; Devynn Nickson and Saige Rivers, who returned to finish the season and snag the fourth title.
“There are not that many left handed hitters that hit like Saige,” said Ridgeview coach Destiny Brightman. “She came up big plenty of times for us. She could have easily finished her season after her injury, but she worked hard to get back in the lineup before districts.”
The glue for Brightman was the bounce of libero Ashlyn Halford whose fearless dives across the back defensive line were key to saving the Lady Panthers from disaster against taller front line opponents.
“She patrolled that back line like a football linebacker,” said Brightman. “She’s a ferocious competitor willing to get the job done.”
The Panthers dug down to upend Stanton in region play, but fell to Bishop Kenny for a fourth year in the region semifinal.
Keystone Heights played in an eight team district that featured two 20-win teams; Newberry and Taylor. The Lady Indians got great net play from junior Madison Heskett with an amazing 280 scoring shots up front.
Clay, led by Katie James and Kelsie Savage, duked it out with 6A powerhouses Menendez and Ponte Vedra.
St. Johns battled in a district with the 2017 3A champion Christ’s Church, who finished as a region finalist in 2018. The Lady Spartans were led by senior hitter Briana Enter and senior libero Madison Livingston.
SUPER 11 Volleyball
Rayna Durden, Jr., hitter/blocker FIHS: 230 Kills at 55percent, 86 blocks. Best: 20 kills v MHS, 8 Blocks v Buchholz
Madison Heskett, Jr., hitter/blocker KHHS: 280 Kills at 40 percent, 19 Blocks
Mallory Roney, Sr., hitter/blocker MHS: 232 Kills at 34percent, 42 Blocks, 47 Aces, 222 Digs, 355 Receives
Briana Parrett, Jr., hitter/blocker OHS: 248 Kills, 256 Digs, 22 Aces, 13 Blocks
Jillian Bemis, Sr., hitter/blocker MHS: 181 Kills, 33 Aces, 34 Blocks, 198 Digs, 258 Assists
Madison Mas, Sr., blocker/hitter FIHS: 143 Kills at 41 percent, 44 Blocks
Avery Kinlaw, Sr., blocker/hitter, OPHS: 157 Kills, 36 Blocks
Ashlyn Halford, Jr., defense/libero RHS: 364 Digs, 337 Receivers/46 errors, 19 Kills
Jangelyz Ramirez, Soph., defense libero FIHS: 417 Digs/8 Errors; 365 Receives/21 Errors; 27 Aces
Kailey DePaula, Jr., setter, FIHS: 265 points, 47 service aces/19 serve error/456 serves; 148 Digs, 345 Assists/18 errors
Emily Loose, Jr., setter, KHHS: 332 Assists; 14 ball handling errors/1045 attempts; 31 Blocks, 31 Blocks, 58 aces/372 Serves, 144 Kills