St. Thomas Aquinas girls volleyball advances to state 7A title match
November 14, 2012St. Thomas Aquinas High School
KISSIMMEE — The St. Thomas Aquinas girls volleyball team has only one blemish on its record against a Florida opponent this season.
Wednesday in the Class 7A state championship, the Raiders will have a chance to avenge that loss when they take on Venice at 6:05 p.m. at the Silver Spurs Arena.
St. Thomas advanced to the title match with a 27-25, 25-21, 25-17 victory over George Jenkins in Tuesday's semifinals. The Raiders (23-3) snapped a three-match losing streak in the state semifinals, while advancing to the finals for the first time since winning the Class 5A state championship in 2004 against Venice.
"I was looking for the better hitter who was on fire," St. Thomas junior setter Mackenzie Zielinski said. "I tried to find a balance and give everyone confidence."
And just what they wished for. The victory gives St. Thomas another chance at Venice.
"We can't wait to get revenge on them," Zielinski said. "We know what to do this time."
Once St. Thomas took the lead 10-9 in the third set, it became obvious which was the better team. The Raiders never trailed again in controlling every part of the match.
Sisters Nikki and Brooke Lyons provided much of the power at the net, combining for 28 kills. Fittingly, it was Nikki's kill that finished off the match. Zielinski finished with 41 assists and seven digs.
St. Thomas struggled early on in the match, making several unforced errors that allowed the Eagles to hold leads at 19-13 and 22-17. Unnerved, the Raiders rallied from the deficit to win the first set.
"We definitely got off to a rough start," St. Thomas coach Lisa Zielinski said. "We made a few unforced errors and sent a few serves into the net."
Unlike the first set, St. Thomas took control early in the second set. The Eagles rallied to actually take the lead at 18-16. It was short-lived as the Raiders would regain the lead at 21-20 on a Nikki Lyons kill.