The North Fort Myers Red Knights must have felt the pressure looking across the court during warm-ups. Six-footers Cheyann Williamson and Rachel Pohl presented a formidable barrier to any attacks at the net. If the Red Knights could bend the Tornadoes into playing their game, they had a chance. The Red Knights took the Tornadoes to the wire in Game 1 and were within three points in Game 2 but eventually fell 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-12).
“Typically, we focus on ball control and try to move our shots around, looking for holes on the court and how to get around their big blockers,” Red Knights coach Nancy Eskay said.
The Red Knights were able to do just that, even under fire from Pohl, who had four kills in the first game. Up 7-3 early, they got their first taste of what Pohl could do. Setter Julie Sherer had to change up her game to setting quick and short to avoid Clearwater blocking attempts.
“We had to quicken our offense up a little bit and try to get more 1-on-1 opportunities, especially for our outside hitters,” Eskay said.
Down 20-15 in Game 1, the Red Knights went on a 5-0 run to tie it up. A couple service aces from Erin Post and Olivia Skweir kept it close but the Red Knights fell 25-23.
Game 2 was another close one as the Red Knights went down 4-1 early but rallied back to tie it at 5-5. Madison Prusak hit a service ace to take the lead. The Clearwater guns blazed and quickly went up 16-12 but Sherer played a trick set onto their side and got one back. The Red Knights clawed back into it and Mattie Booth, five kills in the match, hit a kill shot that tied it again at 19-19, as Booth tried to rally her teammates. A couple of errors by Clearwater gave North Fort Myers a glimmer of hope but the girls still fell 25-22, the Tornadoes giving the Red Knights a dose of their own short, quick sets.
“If they can be solid on the quick play, it makes it a lot more challenging to play defense,” Eskay said.
The frustration started to set in during Game 3. The Tornadoes took an 11-3 lead and some uncharacteristic errors buried the Red Knights and they dropped Game 3 25-12.