The King’s Academy girls varsity volleyball team began a journey back in August with a many lofty goals: achieve a winning regular season record, win the district tournament, win the regional tournament and advance to the state final four for the second year in a row. This would allow the team to challenge for the Class 3A state championship.
However, only two of those goals were achieved — a winning record in the regular season and a district tournament title. The much-coveted regional championship and everything after the regionals eluded TKA this year.
On Tuesday, Nov. 2, TKA’s girls volleyball team hosted the St. John Paul II Academy Eagles in the semifinals of the Class 3A, Group 4 regional tournament. The winner would advance to the regional final on Saturday, Nov. 6. The loser’s season would come to an end.
This was the third time this season that the Lions played the Eagles. On both previous occasions, TKA won in three straight sets — in the regular season back on Oct. 14 and in the final of the district tournament a week later on Oct. 21. As the old saying goes, it’s not easy beating a team three times in a season. That was the case on Tuesday night when the Eagles pulled the upset, defeating TKA in five sets: 17-25, 25-22, 25-23, 21-25 and 15-13.
Maureen Wallace, the head coach for St. John Paul II, was thrilled to see her squad respond like champions.
“We played well tonight, and I felt we prepared very well in the last week,” Wallace said. “I felt the pressure was on King’s the entire match. We studied hard for this match and tried a few new things that worked. It’s not easy defeating a team like us three times in the same season.”
TKA head coach Christy Taylor praised the Eagles’ performance.
“The Eagles were hitting the ball better than I have ever seen them,” Taylor said. “Our loss was not due to a lack of preparation or performance. I’m very proud of my team’s play throughout the season. On some nights, you just get beat.”
The regular season for TKA started back on Aug. 24, when the Lions defeated Jupiter Christian School three sets to one. The regular season came to an end on Oct. 16 when TKA defeated Boca Raton High School in three straight sets. At the end of the regular season, TKA had achieved one of its objectives — a winning regular season record at 16-4.
That marked the beginning of the postseason, which began with the Class 3A, District 12 tournament on Oct. 19 when TKA defeated Saint Andrew’s School by three straight sets in the district semifinals. Two days later, TKA defeated St. John Paul II Academy in three straight sets in the district final. The Eagles earned a berth in the regional tournament based on their strong play during the regular season.
Had TKA defeated the Eagles again in the regional semifinals, they would have hosted longtime rival the Benjamin School in the Class 3A, Region 3 final. Instead, TKA gets to think about next year.
While Taylor’s thoughts have already turned to next year, she has words of praise and appreciation for her four seniors: Olivia Othmer, Ava Fountain, Lily Kinney and McKenna Kirvin.
“Olivia was a five-year starter who gave us great leadership on the court,” Taylor said. “Her all-around court play will be missed.”
“Ava was our libero,” Taylor said. “She’s a great kid. I love her attitude, and we will miss her heart and hustle on the court.”
“Lily was injured much of this year,” Taylor said. “When she was on the court, she was a phenomenal blocker.”
“McKenna is a very competent setter,” Taylor said. “She fought hard to earn that position in the off-season.”
With three victories in the post-season, TKA finished this year with a well-deserved 19-5 overall record.