LAND O’ LAKES – It’s playoff time for FHSAA volleyball and there is no better series to watch than the super-competitive, four team 7A, District 8 semifinals at Land O’ Lakes.
The number 1 seed Sunlake Seahawks prevailed in the opening match of the night defeating The Springstead Eagles 4-1 (23-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-19) but not without a fight.
Top-seeded Sunlake (21-3) who opened the night against number four Springstead (12-14) was shocked by the Eagles with a 25-23 upset win in the first set that was set up by two straight aces from Springstead’s Jennifer Aten to provide a 23-20 lead. Aten, the Eagles offensive spark all season, ended the night with 17 kills to add to her district leading 328 for the year.
A bit stunned by Springstead in the first, the Seahawks responded with a dominating 25-15 win in the second. Sofia McGuire and Caroline Schoonver, who each had 10 kills for the night, provided back-to-backs early in the second set to get the momentum moving for Sunlake.
The Seahawks kept that momentum going into the third set, but after being up 13-10 the surprising Eagles mounted a comeback. Springstead’s Tiana Stifanic got two blocks to tie it, and the Eagles scored three straight, for a 25-24 lead to bring the Sunlake to set point for the second time on the night. This trip however, the Seahawks would not be denied. They got a kill from libero Catilin Astell, an error and a Kylie Ciani block to take the third set in OT 27-25. Ciani had nine kills on the night with Kamea Nash adding seven.
The hard fought third set win by the Seahawks seemed to deflate Springstead a bit who fell to Sunlake 25-19 in the fourth and deciding set, giving the Seahawks the 4-set win and a trip to the district finals Thursday night against rival Mitchell. The Seahawks (21-3) face the Mustangs (18-8) in final. The teams split their regular-season matchups which sets up the must-see finale, Thursday night at Land O’ Lakes.