After a first-round bye, the Santa Fe (Alachua) Raiders volleyball team wasted no time getting back to business on Tuesday night at Santa Fe High School.
The Raiders swept the Palatka Panthers in three sets (25-10, 25-7, 25-1) to advance to the District 4-4A championship.
Santa Fe (23-3) currently sits at No. 3 in Class 4A and has now won 10 straight matches dating back to Sept. 25.
The Raiders started out fast and never looked back on the way to their 23rd victory Tuesday night.
Juniors Anisa Dorlouis and Jalyn Stout led the way for Santa Fe in set one, totaling a combined seven kills and three aces.
The Panthers, on the other hand, struggled to get momentum going in the first set, as their initial opening points came via a couple of serves out of bounds by the Raiders. As the second set got going, Santa Fe was able to build off of its game one win and find a nice pace on the attack again.
This time, however, it was senior Rylie Tam who was doing the scoring for the Raiders. Tam managed to score four out of Santa Fe’s first seven points in the second set.
She would go on to finish with five kills by the conclusion of the second game.
Additionally, junior Sarah Falck and sophomore Olivia Beavers also contributed to the second set win, as well, combining for six aces.
“I kind of thought we all did, like, a really good job as a team because we were passing pretty well and our setters were setting good balls,” Tam said. “I think as a team, sometimes it is hard to focus during games like that. But, like, we kind of just kept doing what we were doing and won.”
Tam would add seven more kills in the third and final set to put her total at 12 for the night, which was a team best. Furthermore, junior Miya Thomas also had quite the performance in the third game, finishing with roughly 11 aces as part of a massive 24-0 run by the Raiders.
Santa Fe was nearly able to pull off what could have been a shutout victory in the third set, but Thomas’ serve on match point hit the net on the Raiders’ side of the court, leaving the Santa Fe bench and student section to fall to their knees in anguish.
“Obviously, you know, they (Palatka) were a little out matched,” Santa Fe head coach Eric Marshall said when talking about his team’s performance against the Panthers. “We’re just very, very high-skill level. Biggest worry for us is staying in rhythm like we’ve been in for the past few games.”
The Raiders will look to capture the district championship on Thursday when they take on the North Marion Colts (9-9) at 7 p.m.
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