On Thursday, Oct. 4, the Royal Palm Beach High School girls volleyball team defeated host Palm Beach Central High School in four sets.
The Wildcats (9-2, 6-1) had to overcome an early deficit, dropping the first set to the Broncos on senior night. Royal Palm Beach was able to sustain a consistent momentum to take the next three sets to win the match.
“The turning point was our trust,” first year head coach Alison Kalish said. “That’s what we have been working on all season long. Trust on those little details, covering, and making sure we get the next point.”
The two teams matched up well against one another. In the first set, they traded points through most of the game, but it was the Broncos (6-10) that came out on top 25-23. Royal Palm Beach led early on, but the Broncos stole the lead 9-8. The Wildcats struggled with clearing the net on serves, which allowed Palm Beach Central to collect some confidence. The Wildcats were able to tie the game at 17-17 but eventually fell 25-23.
The next three sets belonged to the Wildcats, but not without a fight from the stubborn Bronco squad. Royal Palm Beach exploded from the start of the second set, going on an eight-point run to lead 8-0 before the Broncos could get on the board. Solid play from the Bronco front kept them in the game. A huge dig from Adriana Garrido kept the Broncos alive, tying the set at 22-22. Both teams traded points, until the Wildcats took the second set 26-24 in a thriller.
“That’s high school sports for you,” Kalish said. “We had an oops moment there. We had a good time out and discussed it, and we said we’re better than that.”
Sets three and four were dominated by the Wildcat front of Payton Reis, London Soles, Lily Lanier and Hannah Farrell. Katie Gonzalez was instrumental in the center as the libero. She managed to keep the ball moving to set up scoring opportunities. In the third set, Royal Palm Beach was able to keep the Broncos off balance with good defense to grab a 25-16 win.
To have a chance to win, Palm Beach Central needed to come back and take the fourth set. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. The Wildcats applied the brakes and tied it up at 3-3. The teams would trade the lead throughout the set with stellar play under the ball and over the net. The set was close to the end, but it was Royal Palm Beach that would take the set and match 25-23.
“Our girls are very mature. We have five seniors this year, so we have some leaders on the team,” Kalish said. “I have faith in all the work we’re doing this season.”
For the Wildcats, Reis is credited with 24 kills, 2 assists, 4 blocks and 2 aces. Paige Houck had 30 assists,18 service points and 4 digs. Nicole Rizzo totaled 9 kills, 2 aces, and 3 blocks.