Devils whip Wildcats

AVON PARK - After losing a close five-set match to All Saints on Thursday, Avon Park bounced back by knocking off McKeel Academy in the district volleyball opener for both squads on Tuesday. The Red Devils rallied for the Class 4A-District 9 win by scores of 24-26, 25-13, 19-25, 25-18 and 15-13. "That's what happened at happen at All Saints the other day," said Avon Park Coach Shane Wirries. "We went to five games, same crazy back and forth. I honestly believed we were the better team with bigger and better blocks, they were just more consistent, they just never let up." In the first set, Avon Park built a four-point lead a couple of times. The first at 14-10, but the Wildcats roared back to tie the game at 17. The Red Devils went on a 5-1 run and again led by four at 22-18, but once again McKeel vanquished that lead by tying the game at 23.
Though Avon Park came within a point of winning the first set, leading 24-23, McKeel scored the next three points for the win. The Red Devils dominated the second set, scoring the first five points en route to a 9-1 lead. They never let the Wildcats get closer than seven points as they cruised to a 25-13 victory. The third set was tight as both team battled and were tied at 13 before McKeel went on a mini run to take a 17-13 lead. The Red Devils never recovered as the Wildcats won the third set 25-19. The fourth set found the Red Devils trailing the Wildcats at 15-10. The turning point was an Avon Park 9-1 run that gave them a 19-16 lead. McKeel closed the gap at 19-18 before Avon Park scored the final six points to win the fourth set to force a 15-point final set. The last set was a battle as both teams gave great effort and played with tremendous intensity. Avon Park led 7-4, but McKeel clawed back to take the lead at 9-7. Avon Park tied it at 9 before the Wildcats ripped four consecutive points to take a 13-9 lead. Avon Park got the service back and behind the strong serving of Marina Torres scored the final six points to win the set and the match. Though happy with the district win, Wirries said his team needs to work on consistency and defense. "I feel confident that we can beat anybody that we play," Wirries said. Imani Tate led the Red Devils with eight kills and Brianna Rogue followed with six. Rogue, Torres and Otaysha Smith had three blocks in the match. Torres also led the team with four digs. Smith and Harley Huntzinger had three digs apiece. Torres and Tate led Avon Park with four aces apiece. Avon Park travels to Mulberry tonight to face the Panthers in another district match.