The Raiders would not be denied.
Santa Fe (Alachua) swept Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale), 25-16, 25-17, 25-14, to claim its first ever state volleyball championship in dominant fashion Wednesday at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.
“We knew that both teams were going to be very good on offense, so the key was going to be serve receive and defense,” said Santa Fe coach Eric Marshall. “At the start, we were not serve receiving very well and they went up 12-6 (in the first set), but then our serve receive came around. And we served probably the best we have in the playoffs.”
The Class 4A top-ranked Santa Fe Raiders entered the title match on a 15-game win streak while second-ranked Calvary Christian (26-5) had won 14 straight, so something had to give between the two powerhouses.
With the sweep, it marked 10 straight sweeps during the 16-game win streak and 31 straight sets won by Santa Fe (29-3), dating to a 2-1 over Trinity Catholic (Ocala) in tournament play on Oct. 2.
“Our plan was to not drop a set during the playoffs,” Marshall said. “I wanted the girls to strive for that, so a sweep was what we were hoping for.”
Two players that really stood out to Marshall were senior Cameron Bendel and junior Jayln Stout. Stout had 18 kills, 10 assists and four blocks and Bendel came in to serve with the Raiders down 16-15 in the first set and the Raiders went on a 10-0 run to win with Bendel serving the set-winning ace.
“Bendel went and served 10 balls in a row and it was almost like we solidified ourselves and said we were going to be ok,” Marshall said.
Santa Fe will be losing three seniors from this season’s team including Bendel. Rylie Tam and Faith Marquis, while returning a solid core that includes Stout, juniors Miya Thomas, Anisa Dorlouis, and sophomore Joselynn Sanjurjo. Stout and Tam led the Raiders with more than 370 kills apiece.
“We’re losing two six-rotation outside hitters (in Tam and Marquis) and Rylie takes half our swings (on offense), so we’re gong to need Dorlouis and Sanjurjo to take those swings now,” Marshall said.
Looking at this season’s team, Marshall pointed to the chemistry among the players.
“Everyone was OK with their individual roles. This was one of my best teams, they all got along and the we had phenomenal teamwork,” he said. “I’m also thankful for the the support of the entire administrative staff at Santa Fe High School.”
Other stat leaders for Santa Fe in the championship match included Tam with 10 kills and five digs, Dorlouis with 22 assists and eight digs, Thomas with 16 digs, Marquis with five digs, and Sanjurjo with five kills. Bendel, Dorlouis, Marquis and Tam had two service aces each.
The Raiders (28-3) advanced to their third state championship game in the past four years last Saturday by sweeping Academy of the Holy Names (Tampa) in last week’s state semifinals.
Santa Fe (Alachua) finished runner up in both the Class 6A title game in 2018 and Class 4A contest in 2019. Last year, the Raiders fell to eventual state champion Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) in the 4A regional finals. The Raiders also finished second in 1976 in the Class 2A division.
Santa Fe’s road to the state championship match:
- Santa Fe finds motivation in regional final win (Nov. 8)
- Five area volleyball teams advance to regional finals (Nov. 2)
- Santa Fe easily handles Pensacola in 3 (Oct. 27)
- Area volleyball teams win district titles (Oct. 21)
- Santa Fe advances to district championship (Oct. 20)
- Santa Fe ranks No. 2 in regional volleyball poll (Oct. 16)