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Jensen Beach knocks Knights out in region finals

November 14, 2011
By CHUCK BALLARO, Special to Breezenewspapers , Lehigh Acres Citizen

In the end, the Jensen Beach volleyball team was deeper, more experienced and a little better than their North Fort Myers counterparts.

The Falcons, playing in their sixth straight regional final, took advantage of that experience to roll to its sixth Region 5A-3 championship 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-13, 25-18) Saturday afternoon over the Red Knights at a raucous North High gym.

The Red Knights (21-5) went blow-to-blow with Jensen Beach until they rotated out senior middle hitter Jessica Wagner, and the Falcons (20-9) did their damage.

"We tried to go one-on-one with Wagner on the front court, then tried to get the lead when she was out," said Jensen Beach coach Mike Sawtelle.

"Their plan worked," North coach Jeremy Ridgeo said. "We had to put the ball up and set more."

In the first game, Wagner's serve got the Red Knights off to an 8-5 lead, but when she rotated back and was substituted, the Falcons stormed back on Allie Bradley's serve, part of a 14-2 run that gave Jensen Beach a 19-10 lead.

Wagner returned and promptly served a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 19-17, but Jensen Beach pulled away.

North led by four in the second game before Angeline Nisa served a 7-0 Falcons run, again with Wagner out, and led by as many as five until the Red Knights rallied.

Wagner served a 5-0 run to give North the lead back, which finished on an 11-3 run to tie the match.

From there, it was all Falcons as they followed the blueprint of the first two games using an 11-1 run to blow open the third game. Then after North scraped together a lead in the fourth game, Wagner was left on the bench as the Falcons ran off nine straight to seal the win.

"They were consistent, well coached and made few errors. They took advantage of everything we did," Ridgeo said. "We never rolled over and never stopped believing."

Bradley had 18 kills, 21 assists and eight blocks to lead Jensen Beach. Nisa had 16 digs, Meghan Conway had 12 kills and Evin Foster 10 kills.

North was led by Susie McKeever's 22 assists, 14 digs and five kills. Miranda Ashby had 15 digs and 11 kills. Amanda Anzalone had 14 digs and Heather Getman 11 digs.

As for Wagner, she served great, but had to earn each of her 12 kills in her final match.

"It was frustrating. I wasn't planning on that. We weren't used to playing better teams and fighting for every point," Wagner said. "A regional second place is a real good way to end it."



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