SEBRING — Long-time rivals Lake Placid and Avon Park battled it out in Tuesday night’s Preseason Classic volleyball tournament at Sebring High. The Green Dragons defeated the Red Devils by scores of 26-24, 25-21, 16-25 and 25-17 in a hard-fought match.
“I feel good,” said Lake Placid coach Charlotte Bauder. “It was a good way to see some of the things we need to work on. I know it’s hard for the girls because we haven’t even started school yet. There are a lot of things going on, and nobody is really in the groove yet.”
Despite the loss, Avon Park showed it has plenty of talent and will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
“Of course I would of liked to have won,” said Avon Park coach Shane Wirries. “But I do feel good. First game it was close so we showed we could beat them. Second game we got a pretty nice lead and I put a lot of my bench in just to see how they would do in a game, it probably cost us the game but it is preseason.”
The first game was a back-and-forth affair, with neither squad able to lead by more than a couple of points.
Avon Park led by four points, but Lake Placid rallied late in the set to pull out the 26-24 victory.
“I’m proud of the girls for coming back the way they did,” Bauder said. “Their intensity was on and that shows me that they are confident and want to win. I’m very happy about that.”
In the second set, Avon Park played solid and built a commanding 16-11 lead. Lake Placid roared back behind the strong serving of Danielle Daigle, who helped the Green Dragons score eight consecutive points with several aces. Strong net play by Jacalyn Baldwin, Rachel Alejandro and Ravenn Gobourne contributed to a 19-16 lead.
Lake Placid kept the pressure on and finished off the set by a score of 25-21.
“There are a lot of things skill-wise that we have to work on,” Bauder said. “We stayed focused and the key to winning was playing together as a team.”
With Lake Placid a set away from blanking Avon Park, the Red Devils responded with an outstanding effort.
Avon Park’s Krystal Rivera served a run of seven points to put the Red Devils on top 17-15.
Middle hitter Otisha Smith found the range with her powerful spikes and Avon Park eased to the 25-16 win.
“We played well and won the third set decisively,” said Wirries. “We’re trying to figure out who is going to start and at what position. “We’re going to have to get the chemistry worked out a little bit because when we hit the ball we are hard to beat.”
Lake Placid came out with renewed vigor and intensity in the final set and zoomed out to an 18-10 advantage.
Maddie Wilson led the way with several aces, Shannon Huber ripped off a string of points with solid serving and the Green Dragons dominated the net to close out the set and the match by a score of 25-17.
Lake Placid was paced by Baldwin, Alejandro and Gobourne with seven kills each. Mary Grace Bates had a whopping 18 digs, Kailin Brown had nine assists and Wilson chipped in with seven assists.
“It came down to us trying not to miss our serves,” Bauder said. “Serving is something we have to work on, but we did a good job of running our plays and putting the ball away.”
Avon Park’s Smith had a team-high eight kills, nine digs and five aces. Rivera had 14 digs. Aaliya Eastburn contributed nine digs and a pair of kills.
“I don’t like the fact we lost to Lake Placid,” Wirries said. “They’re in our district and I think if we want it bad enough we can beat them. If Lake Placid had wiped us out in three games I would of felt different but I feel good. Every one of those games we were close or ahead. We showed we can beat them and they showed they can beat us. Just like always it’s going to be a great competition. We are looking forward to it.”
Avon Park plays Moore Haven at 6 tonight in the first match and Lake Placid takes on Sebring at 7:30 in the championship match.