Thursday night in Alachua the Santa Fe volleyball team trailed early against visiting Florida High (Tallahassee).
Senior Keldri Young’s kill in the opening set gave the visiting Seminoles (7-8) their first lead, 7-6, on the road against the No. 2 overall team in Florida according to MaxPreps.
However, that’s the only time the rest of the match that the defending 4A state champions would trail as Santa Fe swept Florida High (Tallahassee), 25-15, 25-13, 25-11.
“I thought they (FSU High) played extremely well in set one,” said Santa Fe volleyball coach Eric Marshall. “I thought their passing was way better than in two and three. They’ve got a couple of dynamic hitters who they were able to get it too.”
Santa Fe (13-1) has some of its own dynamic hitters, including last year’s Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Volleyball, Jalyn Stout.
Down a point, the senior answered with a kill to tie the first set at 7-7.
Last year’s 4A Player of the Year had six of her game-high 16 kills in the opening set to give Santa Fe a 1-0 lead.
“It’s always outstanding,” Marshall said about Stout’s performance. “She’s better than she was last year. She jumps higher than she did last year. Her arm swings faster than it did last year. She has way more confidence. She’s special.”
Stout had one of the Raiders’ 10 aces in the second set, giving Santa Fe an 8-2 start en route to a double-digit lead.
“I feel like I could have played better,” said Stout, who noted the expectations are higher this year. “I think everybody thinks that though so maybe it’s normal but I think I could have played way better.”
Junior Olivia Beavers (10 service points, five aces, 12 digs) and junior Gracie Hardacre each had three aces, including three in a row by Hardacre to give Santa Fe its largest lead at 23-11 in the second set.
“My coaching style is serve and serve receive,” Marshall said. “That’s what wins or loses you games, period. I don’t care what level you play. We pass and serve in practice more than we do anything else.”
Following another kill by Stout, Beavers put the finishing touches on the second set with an ace and a 25-13 win.
“We serve extremely aggressive but we’re not blasting balls out of bounds,” Marshall explained. “We are picking where we serve. We put a huge emphasis on serving. We think serving can win state championships.”
In the third set, Santa Fe raced out to a 10-0 lead as Stout had three kills and senior Anisa Dorlouis added three aces.
Dorlouis, who added five kills and two blocks, finished the match with a triple-double (13 assists, 13 service points and 18 digs).
“Anisa is probably the most athletic kid on our team,” Marshall said. “She jumps out of the gym. She can do it all. She’s a five-tool kid and we’re very lucky to have her.”
Senior Miya Thomas led the Raiders, who are back in action on Tuesday at Forest (Ocala), with 20 digs.
Santa Fe’s only loss this year was to nationally ranked Cornerstone Christian (San Antonio, TX) on a neutral floor. They’ve won six in a row since then.
“I still don’t think we’re where we should be,” Marshall said. “I think we can play way better than this on the net. I think we can block better than this and I think we can pass better than this.”