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The Key West Citizen
Lady Conchs rally three times to top Lady 'Canes
By By J.W. COOKE Keys Citizen,
The Key West High volleyball team has faced adversity nearly every weekend during the 2023 campaign, while the Coral Shores High squad has controlled the action in most of its matches, so on Tuesday, Sept. 19, when the Lady ‘Canes took a lead in every game of the Monroe County matchup, the Lady Conchs drew upon their experiences to fight back for a 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-17) victory in Tavernier.
In the first game, the Hurricanes opened with a 4-1 advantage and held through 8-6 before Key West came back strong for the 10-point victory, but in the loss, Coral Shores’ Sabina Naranjo injured her finger diving for a ball and was out of the match.
“Losing Sabina definitely hurt us,” said Coral Shores coach Sam Ovalle. “She’s been so consistent for us in the back row. Key West has some good hitters, and I thought we did a good job defensively for the most part. Brooke (Mandozzi), Sofia (Jans) and Ivy Tiedemann were all over the court all night, hitting the floor if they had to keep balls alive for us. Brooke had 22 digs and Sofia had 10, they really paced us back there, but we definitely missed Sabina.”
The second game had a similar start as Coral Shores got out to a 4-0 lead and maintained it through most of the match, staying in front at 18-14, but Key West once again closed the gap, bringing the game even at 20 before the Lady Conchs scored five of the final six points for the four-point victory.
In a back-and-forth third game, Key West struck back from an early deficit to go in front 16-13 but this time Coral Shores rallied for three straight points, on a Violet Matthews kill and back-to-back aces from Mandozzi, but like the first two games, the Lady Conchs grabbed momentum and rolled to a 25-17 victory.
“We didn’t do as good a job of getting into our offense tonight,” said Ovalle, whose team was back in action on Thursday, Sept. 21, at Mater Bay Academy. “Especially when they went on some of those runs, we really needed to be a little more locked in on running our offense. Give Key West credit they’re a very good team but this is a winnable game for us.”
For the Lady Conchs — who are at the Florida Chrisitan Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22-23 — Annie Scepkova put away nine of her 13 kill chances for a .615 attack percentage, with five aces, two digs, and a block.
“Her fast-tempo attacks were incredible, she is crucial in our offense,” Key West coach Sarah Eckert said about Scepkova, noting Gabby Garcia collected eight kills, nine digs, and a block, Bridgette Sweeney was good for eight kills, four aces, 12 digs, and two blocks, Audrey Smith with four kills and two blocks, Emma Dedrick tallied three kills and six assists, Reese Haggard two aces and nine assists, and Victory Pavlik had 12 assists. “When we get the pass to her and Audrey, the level of play and team performance elevates tremendously.”