Ponte Vedra’s volleyball team knows it is much too soon to say the tide has turned. But the Sharks were not opposed to celebrating their second straight three-game sweep of Bishop Kenny.
After snapping a five-year postseason losing streak to the Crusaders last season, the Sharks defeated Bishop Kenny 25-13, 25-22, 25-21 Tuesday night at the Ponte Vedra gym.
“We were so excited. We said we weren’t going to drop a set,” said Sharks libero Eve Beech. “We hit it so well. The hitters carried us tonight.”
Paige Johnson led Ponte Vedra (2-0) with 10 kills, while Ashley Schur and Gabby Keller had seven apiece. Savannah Fowler had 23 assists. Schur had 11 digs.
“They were feeling pressure to beat us tonight,” Keller said. “They were calling it a revenge match. But we came in with more confidence. In the past, they got in our heads.”
Ponte Vedra has more than held its own against Bishop Kenny in regular-season matches, winning five of eight since 2011. But the Crusaders had dominated the Sharks in the state playoffs, eliminating Ponte Vedra five years in a row until last season.
Ponte Vedra broke the streak with a 3-0 win over Bishop Kenny in the 2016 Class 5A state semifinals after losing in the state semis to the Crusaders in 2015.
On Tuesday, the Sharks proved their rivals are no longer in their heads.
“This year we didn’t even say their name in practice,” Beech said.
The Sharks started strong, rolling to a 12-point win in the first game.
“They definitely started slow,” Ponte Vedra coach Robin Mignerey said of the Crusaders. “But we kept telling (our players), ‘They’re going to get better, they’re going to get better,’ and they did. They started passing better.”
The Sharks pulled out to a 21-12 lead in the second game, but the Crusaders pulled within 23-21 before errors cost them the final two points.
Bishop Kenny tied the third game at 17 before the Sharks were able to end the match with Johnson's 10th kill.
Josephine Morrill led Bishop Kenny with nine kills. Cameron Feener had 16 assists and Brigid Kiely had 19 digs.
“They were much more powerful than us at the net,” Bishop Kenny coach Suzanne Winkler said. “They played a better, more well-rounded game. We’re a young team — we have just one senior — and we have a lot to learn. But almost all these girls play year-round, so young is not an excuse.”
Both teams expect to meet again in the playoffs for the seventh straight year. But Mignerey said by then the teams may not be recognizable.
“They’ll go to some tough tournaments,” Mignerey said. “And when we see them in November, it could be a totally different team — both of us — with different dynamics and switching players around.”