A raucous crowd saw two of Southwest Florida’s top volleyball teams go head-to-head in Thursday night’s 3A-9 district championship at Southwest Florida Christian Academy. The host Kings gave Evangelical Christian (21-5) everything they wanted, but the Sentinels came away with a 25-23, 17-25, 25-21, 25-18 victory for their sixth straight district championship.
“SFCA has improved dramatically over the season, and played us tough all year. Their fans brought it, and I was thrilled that our fans came out and supported our girls. It was a terrific environment for high school volleyball.” ECS head coach Theresa Kabel said.
The Kings came into the match off of a thrilling defeat of Cantebury in the semifinals after trailing two sets to none, and came out inspired in a highly contested first set. After falling behind 7-0, the Kings ran off eight of the next ten points. Both teams went back and forth as the set progressed, but ECS came away with the set off a SFCA error.
The Sentinels raced out early in the second set 4-0, but the Kings took complete control of the set scoring 14 of the next 16 points. A kill by Rebekah Bergquist gave the set to SFCA to even the match.
The third set saw the Kings run out to a 5-4 lead, but ECS would respond by taking 13 of the next 16 points to take command. A late 4-0 SFCA rally from 24-17 down gave SFCA hope, but a kill by Kristin VanOlst won the set for the Sentinels.
SFCA took an early 5-1 lead in the fourth set, but ECS would take four of the next five points to stabilize the momentum. From 15-15 on, the Sentinels took 10 of the final 13 points to take the title.
The Sentinels will host 3A-10 runner up First Baptist on Tuesday, while the Kings (19-7) will go on the road to play 3A-10 winner Community School of Naples also on Tuesday.
Caroline Forster led the Sentinels with 13 kills and five blocks. Emily Moore recorded 9 kills and 10 digs, and Lily Tessier had 34 assists on the evening.