Buchholz volleyball coach Joe Lamagno recently told his team that you have to believe that you can compete.
Early on against rival Gainesville High in a Class 6A-District 4 showdown on Thursday night, they did, jumping out to a quick 7-2 lead in the opening set.
However, the visiting Hurricanes used an 8-0 run to spark a 25-14 win in the first game en route to a 25-14, 25-10, 25-13 sweep of the Bobcats at Bud Seymore Gymnasium.
“Gainesville beat the tar out of us,” Lamagno said. “They played perfect.”
Senior Brooklyn Tealer, a USC commit, controlled the match with 20 kills, including a dominant return to tie the first set at 10-10.
“It’s incredible to beat your rival,” she said. “The energy coming from both student sections made it super exciting to play, so I’m happy we got the win.”
GHS assistant coach Courtney King served as head coach with Chancie Vice out with COVID-19.
“We got the pregame jitters out and then once we kind of settled in it was kind of go time from there,” King said.
Tealer, who missed most of last season due to injury, only committed three errors and finished with a .708 hitting percentage.
“Tealer was the difference, oh my god,” Lamagno said. “I didn’t get to see her play last year and as much as I hated her beating me up tonight, it was fun to watch. I mean that was amazing. She’s next level.”
Some of her returns across the net were “wicked,” as one fan noted.
“She’s something fierce out there, that’s for sure,” King said. “She’s got a cannon on the outside and her defense in the back row has improved impeccably. She’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. I’m super excited to have her on our team and a part of our offense.”
An ace by junior Chloe Petrik (3 aces, 36 assists, 11 digs) gave the ‘Canes an 11-10 lead, which they would never relinquish in the first set.
Senior Charlotte Gravlee, a Columbia commit, said the difference was the team’s spirit.
“I think for us it was the energy, we had a lot of energy,” she said. “Our student section brought a lot of energy as well and we played a consistent game, minus the first set, but I think it helped us a lot.”
GHS dominated the second set thanks to a quick 6-0 start.
Following an attack error on both sides, senior Meme Davis (5 kills, 12 digs, 5 aces) had back-to-back aces for a 9-1 lead.
“I was just really focused on my serve, keeping them in and not letting the fans distract me, just for my team so we can win and get up out of here.”
A block by Gravlee capped a 9-0 run for a 15-1 lead and the rout was on.
“It was definitely a good win,” said Davis, who is committed to D-I Mercer University. “I came in confident and my team did too. We were a little shaky in the beginning, but we shook that off and we just beat some butt.”
After trailing 2-1 in the third set, the Hurricanes (5-3, 1-0) rode a 6-0 run for a 7-2 lead and never trailed again.
Gravlee was second behind Tealer with nine kills and she led the team with three blocks.
“It feels really good, especially in my last year, probably one of the last times of me playing in this gym, it feels really nice to take over at their home court,” Gravlee said.
Sophomore Rowan Kage added seven kills and senior Madison Howard finished with 12 digs for GHS, which will travel to Class 6A regional semifinalist Ponte Vedra at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Buchholz was led by sophomore Delaney Wingenbach with five kills, while senior Emmy Rowland led the team with five digs and seven assists.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Lamagno said. “Poor job of managing our emotions (up 7-2), and obviously playing a quality team. We can’t make the errors that we did, and serve/receive killed us. They served tough, they served great.”
The Bobcats (3-2, 0-1) will host Forest (Ocala) in a district match at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.