The streak continues for the Oak Hall School volleyball team.
On Tuesday night, the Eagles (14-2) swept Countryside Christian on the road, 25-17, 25-16, 25-21, for their sixth straight win away from home.
“The key to last night's win at Countryside was playing patient and consistent defense,” said Oak Hall coach Perry McDonald, who guided the Eagles to the Class 2A state semifinals last year. “Countryside does a very effective job playing three people deep across the back of the court and digging up lots of balls. As a result, there were quite a few long, patient rallies that ensued.”
Setter Cassidy McDonald, a 5’10” sophomore, had a career high in assists with 35 and junior outside hitter Pene Moser tied her career high with 21 kills. Freshman libero Amelia Chen added 15 digs.
Last night’s win comes on the heels of an unbeaten performance at the Keswick Christian Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
After losing for just the second time this season at then 2A No. 2 St. John Lutheran in Ocala last Wednesday night, the Eagles “did a very effective job refocusing” and went 3-0 on Friday, McDonald said.
They posted wins against 2A schools Cambridge Christian (Tampa), Bayshore Christian (Tampa), and Tampa Bay HEAT (Brandon).
Following a 2-0 win against 3A St. Petersburg Catholic on Saturday afternoon, the Eagles would get an opportunity for revenge.
“The girls and I knew that St John's was one of the favorites in the 16-team tournament field and we immediately focused on the fact that we might get a chance to face them again on day two of the tournament if we both advanced to the championship match,” McDonald said.
The Saints did their part too, defeating the host team — seventh-ranked Keswick Christian — in the semifinals to set up Saturday’s showdown.
“By that point in time, we had watched film on St. John's from our previous matches and gained the opportunity to scout them out further on Saturday,” McDonald said.
St John's (14-3) has two dominant outside hitters, one of which is sophomore Rylee Palmateer who has a 0.311 hitting efficiency on the season and “went off” against Oak Hall for 0.417 last Wednesday night.
“Before we started the championship match, we put together a defensive shift and game plan specifically designed to defend against St John's attack tendencies,” McDonald noted. “The result was a sensational 3-set win in the championship match.”
Moser hammered 16 kills, McDonald accumulated 25 assists, plus two timely blocks against Palmateer, while Chen and sophomore Sarah Miller combined for 24 digs.
“We held Ocala's powerful outside tandem at bay and limited Palmateer to a 0.067 hitting percentage,” McDonald said.
Junior right side Ave Scorpio and Moser were named to the All-Tournament team, while McDonald was recognized as the tournament MVP.
“McDonald is having a truly sensational break out year running the 5-1 for us,” McDonald said of his daughter.
She leads the team in assists (347), blocks (17), service points (115) and has the highest ace to error ratio (3.3) and attacking efficiency on the team (0.593).
Moser leads the team in kills (211) and digs (159) and is second on the team in blocks (16), while the 5'9” Scorpio has racked up 117 Kills and 16 blocks and has already surpassed her season total in kills for all of last season.
Chen “has been a stellar leader in the back row and from the service line” and is second on the team in digs (144) and service points (99). The freshman also leads the team in aces with 34.
Oak Hall, which is currently ranked sixth in the state in Class 2A by MaxPreps, is back at home on Thursday at 6 p.m. against 10-2 Central Pointe Christian Academy (Kissimmee).
The Eagles, who are 6-1 at home this season, will be guests on “The Prep Zone” sports show tonight at Sonic Drive-In from 7-8 p.m. You can listen to the show on 106.9 FM “I am Country” and online at IamCountryRadio.com.