The Polk State College women's volleyball team left its heart on the floor Saturday at the FCSAA/NJCAA Region 8 tournament at State College of Florida in Jacksonville. The No. 17 Eagles played gritty, going 1-1 on the day, defeating Gulf Coast State College in a classic match 3-2, and falling to Suncoast Conference foe State College of Florida, 3-0. Polk finished the season with a 22-17 record. The Eagles were one victory shy of reaching the Atlantic District final. "We played and we fought," said Polk State coach German Del Valle. The Eagles were making their third consecutive trip to the state tournament. Polk opened the day with an exciting 3-2 (25-22, 14-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-13) win over Gulf Coast State College. They took the momentum into the match against unranked State College of Florida. The Eagles held the advantage in all three sets against the Manatees, but fell 25-23, 30-28, 25-20. "We made rallies," Del Valle said. "We were there." The match with State College came down to just a few plays, especially in the second set when the two were tied seven times and played several long rallies. With players diving on the court to dig out balls, running to the dark corners of the gym and stretching deep into their hearts, Polk came up short against a taller, more powerful team, ending the season with commitment and scrappiness. The stat sheet showed part of the story. Polk had one less error on attack than the Manatees. The Eagles tallied one more service error than State College. Polk had just one less block and seven fewer digs. The Manatees notched 50 kills to Polk's 41. Eagle sophomore Diannmarie Rivera (Puerto Rico) led Polk with nine kills and nine digs. Both freshman Shatorreia Edgecombe (Dame) and Ana Karine-Cavalcante registered seven kills. Freshman Yara Ramirez (Puerto Rico) passed out 20 assists and sophomore setter Ashley Toth (Edgewater) posted 19 assists. Freshman Rossanna Ramos had six digs. Earlier Saturday, the Eagles rallied from a 2-1 deficit and won the final two sets to beat Panhandle Champion Gulf Coast 3-2. "We worked for it," said Del Valle. Del Valle's adjustments to his blockers to defeat Gulf Coast worked in the first set, but Gulf Coast adjusted in second set, allowing them to win the second and third sets before Polk climbed back in the match. "We matched our blockers with their hitters," he said. "In the second game, it didn't work out for us." The Eagles were also not scoring many points. Since Polk had been training for a few weeks with two setters, Del Valle decided to bring in Ramirez to assist Toth in setting. The change helped. "They were comfortable with that," said Del Valle. They were so comfortable, Ramirez started to set the middle blockers as well as the hitters, giving her 15 assists, four digs and an ace for the match. "Yara did a good job," Del Valle said. Plus, Polk freshman Genesis Castillo (Puerto Rico) came off the bench with enthusiasm and key plays, including nine digs. "She gave us the fire," Del Valle said. The Eagles also found one other intangible. "We found togetherness," Del Valle added. Even though the Eagles tallied six missed serves in the fourth set, the Eagles were up 20-23 when the Gulf Coast Commodores made it interesting, closing the gap to 24-23. A kill by Castillo was the final point of the set, forcing the fifth and decisive set. "She had great leadership," Del Valle said. Edgecombe was hot near the near the end of the set when Polk was behind, 12-9. She tallied a kill for a point, recorded a solo block and another kill to keep Polk in it. An off-balance soft touch by Cheye-Anne Savage (Hudson) and a block, along with a kill by freshman Ana Karine-Cavalcante (Brazil), a net violation by Gulf Coast and a another kill by Savage allowed the Eagles to take the set, 15-13, and the match. Savage finished with a season-high 18 kills. Rivera posted 11 kills and seven digs. Both freshman Liz Garcia (Utah) and Edgecombe scored eight kills. Toth handed out 40 assists and had four digs. Ramos led the team with 21 digs.
Eagle Volleyball Finishes State Tournament With Grit
Nov 09, 2013