The entire student section was on their feet, each holding up one finger. The score was 24-17 in the third game, and Hagerty had won the previous two. Only one point stood in the way of sweeping third-ranked Plant High School and advancing to the state championship. One kill from Audrey Douglas, and history was made.
On Saturday, Nov. 9, varsity volleyball defeated Plant High School 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-20) at home in the 7A state semifinal game to become the first volleyball team in school history to advance to the state championship.
“We just wanted it more than them,” outside Jessica Buis said.
During the third game, head coach Juanita Hitt made sure her team knew what was at stake.
“They started to serve us tougher, so I had to stop the players,” Hitt said. “I said ‘Listen, you have eight points that you need to pass the ball in,’ so we rallied back, and we did it.”
Buis and Douglas led the team with 12 kills each while setter Emily Lawrence led the team with 38 assists and 12 digs.
“I have to make sure that everyone was sticking to the game plan, making sure everyone knew where they were going, and overall just being an encourager,” Lawrence said.
After Lawrence’s performance, she is on pace to break the school’s all-time and single season assist records. She is 25 assists away from 1,000 assists this season alone.
“All the girls that I have gotten the opportunity to play with have made everything that I have been able to do possible,” Lawrence said.
Going into the state semifinal, Plant’s season stat line was identical to Hagerty’s. The only thing that Plant did not match up with was the number of blocks. Coach Hitt focused in on that during practice in preparation for the game.
“We tried to key in on our blocks in practice,” Hitt said. “We knew that we had to play tough. We know that it is the final four and they are going to fight for their lives, so we had to fight for ours.”
Prior to their final four appearance, they had to play Deland, Oviedo, and Lyman. After beating DeLand and Oviedo 3-0 each, Lyman won the first and third set, but then the team rallied back in the last two to advance to the final four.
“They gave us a run,” Douglas said, “but we pulled through and made sure we executed.”
The team will play Palm Beach Gardens in Fort Meyers on Saturday at 4 p.m. Athletic director Jay Getty and principal Robert Frasca have organized a charter bus for the first 48 students, free of charge pro-vided students pay for the admission ticket. Tickets can be purchased through Go Fan in advance for $9, or for $12 at the event.
The senior-led team has enjoyed the run but is looking for one more win.
“This team is so special because we all love each other so much,” Douglas said. “We are all such great friends and that correlates to our success on the court.”