TAMPA — Calvary Christian’s volleyball team looks tough, tested and ready for a strong run at a Class 4A state title.
For proof, look no farther than the past two days when the Warriors defeated a tough Tampa Prep squad in three games, then followed Friday with a 25-21, 18-25, 27-25, 25-17 victory over arch-rival Shorecrest in the Class 4A, District 4 final.
"We played so great against Tampa Prep, but we also expended a lot of energy because it was a possible season-ending match (in a district semifinal)," first-year Calvary coach Kim Whitney said. "I am so proud of the way they played on Thursday and then came back tonight. So proud."
Whitney — who coached the past 14 years at Pasco-Hernando State College — said this 2018 season has been a steady, progressive, united, most enjoyable journey.
"I couldn’t be any happier," said Whitney, who made adjustments from playing style to strength of schedule (more difficult than ever) to lineup changes with eight returning starters and talented twin transfers Cathryn Long and Jennafer Long from out of state. "What a great group of girls and family and school they all turned out to be. Everybody has worked together from day one."
On Friday, Calvary (18-7) again was challenged by a strong opponent, Shorecrest (19-3), which was without one of its top players, setter/right side Annabel Happ, who has been fighting a flu-like illness the past few weeks.
"We had to make some adjustments," Shorecrest coach Raquel Ferreira said. "We did the best we could."
Through the first three games, the Chargers gave the Warriors plenty of fight, trading the lead no less than 25 times and holding a 24-21 lead in the third game before Calvary stormed back to take the game 27-25.
"I think we have been in enough tough matches this year that we are ready for tough situations like that," Whitney said. "Seeing the way we responded is so encouraging and exciting."
In the fourth game, Calvary pretty much threw down the hammer, often behind the hitting of Cathryn Long (team-high 21 kills) and the relentless digging of libero Grace Ball.
In the process, Calvary jumped to a 9-1 lead, then never let Shorecrest creep within four points the rest of the way.
"We have confidence in what we’re doing," said Calvary senior Jadyn Showers. "There was some adjustment with having a new coach and welcoming some new players. But we all just came together and worked so well together through the whole season."