Polk State Volleyball heads into tournament play this weekend fresh off a huge win Thursday night over State College of Florida.
The match at the Polk State Winter Haven Health Center stretched into five sets before the Eagles shut down the Manatees, 12-15.
The victory was significant for a number of reasons, explained Assistant Coach Chris Williams.
For one, State College of Florida is currently ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 10 in the nation; Polk State is unranked.
Thursday night's win was also a bit of vengeance for the Eagles, who lost to State College in five sets during their first meeting of the season in mid-September.
"Plus, their record was really impressive. Until last night, their record was 17-3 overall and 4-0 in the (Suncoast) Conference. We handed them their first Conference loss," he said.
Polk State's record for the season is now 11-4 overall and 2-3 in the Conference.
Among the standouts in Thursday's match were Rachel Aguilar (S), with 38 assists; Rosmerli Carillo (OH), with 10 kills and nine digs; Kelly Gallamore (M), who contributed 15 kills; Stephanie Harris (M) with eight kills and 10 total blocks; and
Grace Vega (L/DS), with 20 digs.
Harris, Williams said, is having a noteworthy season, having been named to the All-Tournament Team during the State College of Florida Tournament. She contributed to Polk State winning all four matches it played in that tournament.
"She's really making a difference," Williams said.
The team is still adjusting after Diannmarie Rivera-Romero, described by the coaching staff and her teammates as the core of the team, was injured in an off-court accident earlier this month, forcing her out of the game for several weeks. Williams said her absence is still felt every game, but he hopes the team has found a rhythm that will carry it through the upcoming weekend's tournament.
Polk State is scheduled to play St. Johns River State, College of Central Florida and Miami Dade during the College of Central Florida Tournament. Like College of Central Florida, Miami Dade is ranked highly — No. 2 in the state and No. 9 in the nation. St. Johns is not ranked.
Williams said the weekend's play against such highly ranked teams will be challenging.
"The thing with College of Central Florida is they have strong hitters and good defense. They're really good all-around. We're going to have to be consistent and play our system," he said. "The thing with Miami Dade is they have good hitters that jump high. Our job against Miami Dade is going to be to have a good defense and be tricky with our offense."
Tournament play begins at 10 a.m. in Ocala. Score updates will be posted on facebook.com/soareagles.