Dragon domination

LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid used a lethal combination of timely setting and powerful spikes to overwhelm Avon Park by scores of 25-12, 25-10 and 25-20 in the finals of the Class 4A-District 9 volleyball tournament on Thursday night. The impressive win improved the talented Green Dragons to 20-5 on the season and earns them a regional quarterfinal home match against District 10 runner-up Berkeley Prep on Wednesday. "It feels good to be district champions," said first-year Lake Placid coach Charlotte Bauder. "I couldn't be more proud of the girls because they came out focused and played at a high level. "We accomplished our goal of winning the district title and it was a great feeling to have all of the seniors on the floor for the last few points of the match."
The disappointing loss dropped the Red Devils to 12-10 overall and they will go on the road Wednesday to face District 10 champion Academy of the Holy Names. "We didn't play to our potential at all," said Avon Park coach Shane Wirries. "I tried everything but I just couldn't get them going. "It was one of our worst matches of the season." Lake Placid came out strong in the first set as hitters Bella Carabello and Breauna Corley took turns blasting kill shots into holes in the Avon Park defense to open up a commanding 10-2 lead. The Red Devils tried to rally behind the powerful spikes by senior Otaysha Smith, but Lake Placid kept the pressure on with relentless shots into open areas. A bad serve by Avon Park gave the Green Dragons the first-set victory. The second set was a carbon copy of the first as Lake Placid dominated play at the net with its superior height, and strong serving helped the Green Dragons jump on top by a score of 8-1. Avon Park called a time out to stem the tide, but the Green Dragons didn't let up as Jacalyn Baldwin, Carabello and Corley took turns hammering spikes past the Red Devil defenders. Lake Placid, which swept Sebring last week and is playing its best volleyball of the season, continued to fire away using excellent sets to put the ball in the proper spot for kill shots. A cross-court spike sealed the 25-10 second-set win. "We're playing really well right now," said Bauder. "The girls have worked hard and have bought in to what I want them to do." Lake Placid substituted liberally in the final set, and even though Avon Park played with more effort, the Green Dragons took the set by a score of 25-20 to win the district championship. "This was a big night for Lake Placid and we're thankful for all the fans that came out to support us," said Bauder. "We're home for a regional quarterfinal match on Wednesday and we hope the fans come out in large numbers." Lake Placid will host Berkeley Prep, which was upset by Academy of the Holy Names in five sets. The Green Dragons face a daunting task in trying to beat the Buccaneers, who have won numerous state titles. "We are getting better with each match we play," Bauder said. "Our blocking, hitting, passing and serving are improved and we're going to need to play our best match of the season on Wednesday if we want to move on in the state playoffs." Avon Park will have its hands full having to travel to Tampa to take on Academy of the Holy Names. "There's no pressure on us because we're the underdogs," Wirries said. "We just need to go out and play hard because we've got nothing to lose." mpinson@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5837