Eagles Soar Past Hawks to Earn Spot in State Semifinals
Sun. November 11, 2012 at 2:41 a.m. | By Nathan Halverson
By NATHAN HALVERSON | LEDGER CORRESPONDENT
MINNEOLA | George Jenkins' volleyball squad is back in the state tournament for the first time in 16 years.
The Eagles punched their ticket there Saturday afternoon with a thundering win over Lake Minneola in a Class 7A regional final on the road, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-16.
Senior Kayla Monsanto had 19 kills to lead Jenkins before a loud crowd of 300 fans in the Lake Minneola Gymnasium and senior Erin Wibert added 11 kills, including the game-winning point.
Nikki McKown contributed 10 kills for the Eagles, who will play Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a state semifinal match against Saint Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
St. Thomas defeated Royal Palm Beach, 25-16, 25-18, 25-11, to advance.
"It feels better than any other game I have played," Monsanto said. "From day one, we wanted to go to state."
Jenkins last made the state tournament in 1996 and lost to Clearwater then. Former Eagles head coach Diane Werrick was the coach then and was in attendance Saturday to watch the team make it back to state. She currently works at Jenkins as a school administrator.
Werrick coached Jenkins to three state finals appearances in 1993 (state runner-up), 1995 (state runner-up), and 1996.
George Jenkins squared off against St. Thomas Aquinas in 1995, when it was still a part of Class 5A, losing in two games 15-11, 16-14.
Coach Lisa Bickerton will try to exceed those finishes.
"I don't think it has sunk in yet, (that we made it)" Bickerton said. "We have been pushing for this all season, it's just exciting."
Alex Mendoza had 29 assists and teammate Genel Sturgeon added 13 kills for Lake Minneola.
F.W. Buchholz will be playing Venice at 2 p.m. in the other Class 7A semifinal.