George Jenkins Outlasts Lakeland in 5-Set Thriller of Class 7A, DIstrict 7 Volleyball
Fri. October 26, 2012 at 12:59 a.m. | By Rick Brown
By RICK BROWN
BARTOW | When the two best volleyball teams in the county are in the same district, it's not a stretch to see them in the district final.
In fact, George Jenkins and Lakeland have met each other in the district final the last four years.
The familiarity of the teams may have led some to think Thursday's Class 7A, District 7 final in Bartow would not have been an exciting match.
But the five-setter was full of exciting, intense and superb action by both teams.
In the end, Jenkins had enough to pull off a 27-25, 18-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11 victory earning their second consecutive district title.
"It was a great, great match," George Jenkins coach Lisa Bickerton said. "Lakeland came to play. Their defense was great; their serve return was great. We had to step it up. Basically, it was point after point, back and forth. It was a barnburner."
Both teams advance to the playoffs.
George Jenkins will host Plant City on Wednesday.
Lakeland will travel to take on Riverview.
"I thought the girls fought really hard," said Lakeland coach Crystal Ramsey. "I thought they played some of their best volleyball of the season (Thursday night). I have to give credit to Jenkins. They played hard as well and it was two great volleyball teams out there tonight battling it out. It's my favorite thing in the world to watch."
Although not a sellout, fans supporting both teams experienced emotional highs and lows, momentum shifts and huge plays in every set.
The action started in the first set.
Jenkins appeared on the verge of making it an easy set, jumping out to a 19-13 lead and had a 24-19 lead with the serve.
But a couple of miss-hits led to a Dreadnaughts rally as Lakeland tied the game at 24 and again at 25.
But Jenkins senior Kayla Monsanto had back-to-back kills to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Monsanto had 20 kills and 16 digs in the contest.
Lakeland and Jenkins went back-and-forth in the second set and was tied at 16 before the Dreadnaughts went on a run behind Kelly Germain (19 kills) and the serving of setter Caitlin Conner (50 assists). Lakeland evened the match with a 9-2 run to win game two.
Jenkins started strong in the third game with a 7-2 run to open up the third.
Lakeland battled back and finally caught Jenkins at 17. The Eagles took a 21-19 lead before the Dreadnaughts ended the set with a 6-0 run to take a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth set, it was Lakeland's turn to get out early, taking a 6-2 lead and later leading 18-13.
But Nikki McKown (17 kills, 20 digs) and Erin Wibert (13 kills, five stuff blocks) led a furious Jenkins' comeback and the Eagles tied the game at 21 before winning four of the next five points to force a fifth and deciding game.
The finale was tight early before Jenkins started to stretch the lead a bit at 7-4. Lakeland got the next two points to pull to 7-6 but that was as close as the Dreadnaughts would get on this night.
Wibert got a kill that gave the Eagles match point and then served. When Lakeland's return on one of game's fantastic rallies went into the net, the Eagles could finally celebrate their second straight district title.
"This one is not necessarily sweeter," Bickerton said of the district title. "They're always good when you have to battle this hard. When you have to play such a difficult back and forth match, it's good to win."