Jenkins, Lakeland Advance to 7A Volleyball Semifinals
Wed. October 31, 2012 at 11:22 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Less than five minutes after beating Plant City Wednesday night in a Class 7A regional quarterfinal volleyball match, George Jenkins senior Nikki McKown went to her phone to check news her team had already expected: the Eagles will have to get past Lakeland Tuesday night to get deeper into the postseason.
Jenkins easily handled Plant, 25-13, 25-11, 25-21, in town while Lakeland beat Riverview, 25-14, 25-12, 25-20, on the road to advance.
Lakeland and Jenkins will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Jenkins for a chance to get into the regional finals.
"I think it's been the same every year since I started here," Lakeland coach Crystal Ramsey said.
It's the fourth year in a row that the teams will face each other in a playoff elimination match.
Last year, Jenkins came out victorious. The two years before then, when the teams were in Class 5A, Lakeland won.
"We're getting mentally prepared right now," said Erin Wibert, a senior middle hitter for Jenkins who had eight kills against Plant.
"You have to when you play Lakeland. There's always a lot of big talk entering every match and a lot of people watching."
To get through Wednesday, Jenkins (27-3) used big games from a bevy of hitters, including Wibert, lefty Brie Gilliam (10 kills) and Kayla Monsanto (8 kills, 9 digs, 2 aces).
Amanda Thiele moved the match along well and finished with 25 assists and seven digs.
McKown also had seven digs.
The only game that was close was the third, and Plant City took the lead a couple of times before Jenkins stretched its 22-21 advantage with a pair of aces from Kaitlin Boyd, who had three on the night, and an error from a Plant player.
And it was mainly Jenkins' second squad that was in for most of that game.
"Jenkins plays very solid, they're very disciplined," Plant coach Jessica Thornton said.
"But we're a lot better of a team than what we showed tonight, and its sad to see the season end that way." Plant finished 8-9.
The Dreadnaughts (20-8) got past Riverview with a big performance from Kali Boatwright, who had 21 kills and 15 digs.
Senior setter Caitlin Conner finished with 31 assists and four kills and Kelly Germain, a sophomore, added 10 kills.
Lexi Hicks had eight kills and seven blocks.
"Everybody knows it's do or die," Ramsey said.
The key against Riverview (18-7) was to throw off its big hitters, including Kiahna Wicks and Cassidy Hutchinson, Ramsey said.
Wicks had 293 kills on the season, Hutchinson 182 before Wednesday night's match.
"We served very aggressive tonight because we knew that they had some really good hitters," Ramsey said. "We took chances and played hard."
The game plan worked.
Now it's on to planning for Jenkins, again. Lakeland is 0-4 against the Eagles this season, including in the 7A-7 district title game.
But Ramsey said she's going to let her players enjoy this win first.
"Tonight was all about tonight. We grew tonight, we really played hard. Tomorrow we'll talk about the things we need to do for Tuesday," Ramsey said.
"I want my girls to feel good about winning this game and winning on the road."
[Solange Reyner may be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7526.]