- Jodie Wagner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Lake Worth Christian needed four sets to beat Jupiter Christian last season in the regional volleyball finals.
Thursday night, the Eagles returned the favor — in five.
Rachel Bryan had 19 kills and 21 digs, and Emma Shaddix added 18 kills and three aces to lead Jupiter Christian to a 19-25, 25-22, 16-25, 25-13, 15-13 victory over Lake Worth Christian in a Class 3A regional championship match.
With the win, the Eagles (19-5) advance to the state semifinals Nov. 11. The Defenders finished their season at 15-11.
The win was the third this season for Jupiter Christian over Lake Worth Christian, including last month’s District 7-3A championship match.
“I am so happy for my seniors,” Eagles coach Sam Skelton said. “They’ve pushed four years for this, and now it’s their time to go.”
The match was tight from the start.
The opening set featured a handful of lead changes in the early going before the Defenders built a small cushion.
Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Franklin and Lake Worth Christian continued to pound away, building a seven-point lead before closing the set 25-19 on a Franklin kill.
Lake Worth Christian continued to play well in the second set, turning a 5-3 deficit into a five-point advantage midway through.
But Jupiter Christian fought back — twice. The Eagles tied up the set at 13 after going on a 5-0 run, and tied it again at 22 after trailing by three points. Jupiter Christian scored the final three points to take the second set 25-22.
Multiple lead changes marked the third set, with neither team able to build a significant lead until the Defenders rallied midway through.
Franklin keyed a 12-3 Lake Worth Christian run, and she closed the set 23-16 on another big kill, giving the Defenders a 2-1 advantage in the match.
“We did not quite play our game mentally,” Skelton said. “Hats off to Lake Worth Christian. We beat them in three both times last time, but they were ready for us.”
An 11-0 run early in the fourth set — on Shaddix’s serve — staked Jupiter Christian to a 16-4 lead, and the Eagles cruised from there, forcing the decisive fifth set.
The Eagles also jumped out to a big lead in the final set, but the Defenders chipped away and pulled within 14-13. But a Bryan kill ended it for the Eagles, who clinched their first regional championship since 1995.
Franklin finished with 39 kills and three aces for Lake Worth Christian, and Morgan Shedd added 46 assists.
Benjamin d. Weston-Sagemont 25-15, 25-20, 25-13: Lauren Lange had four blocks and two kills, Katy Blain added 13 kills and three blocks and Lauren Lindahl contributed 15 digs and three aces as the Buccaneers (17-3) swept the Lions in the regional finals in Palm Beach Gardens.