Menendez volleyball salutes seniors with sweep of St. Augustine

The lights were off. The seven young women who were supposed to be feted were nowhere to be seen.

 

The beat dropped and out walked Menendez volleyball’s class of 2018. Eden Edgell, Emily Ward, Kim O’Nell, Allison Melgard, Ashlyn Edmondson, Julia Owensby and Madalyn Spossey ensured Thursday’s senior night would be a memorable one with a 25-15, 25-17, 25-13 win over St. Augustine.

A clean version of Post Malone’s “Celebrations” blared on the public address system. One of the lines from the chorus may explain how the Falcons morphed from a .500 team to one that ends the regular season 18-5.

“Worked so hard, forgot how to vacation…”

Between them Edgell, Ward and O’Nell have 11 years of varsity experience. O’Nell and Edgell are middles, both played multiple rotations in the back row on Thursday.

O’Nell finished with four kills, three digs a block and an ace. Throughout the season, the Falcons have won more points when she is at the service line than anyone else on the team. Thursday night, O’Nell only had four service points and it didn’t matter because freshman Ashlyn Banton picked up the slack with seven aces.

St. Augustine (12-11) had a 12-11 lead in Game 1, but Menendez’s serving once again helped the home team pull away. A Ward attack hit the line to give Menendez a 14-13 advantage. Four points later Banton stepped back to the service line and helped her team pull away.

A 17-14 Menendez lead quickly became a 25-15 win because Banton had three straight aces, O’Nell produced a kill, Ward followed and the crowd roared with every Pedro point.

Ward, who finished with eight kills, seven digs, three aces and a block, said her team gets up for any contest against the Yellow Jackets. Menendez has won four straight in this series and swept St. Augustine in each of this year’s three contests.

Ward and Edgell, a pair of 17-year-old first cousins who were born 17 days apart, have both been on the varsity for four years.

Menendez will need to win next week’s District 5-6A tournament to ensure it has another home game. If Thursday was their final home game, the two cousins didn’t cry because it was over. They smiled because it happened.

“It’s been a blast,” Ward said. “All my teammates I have loved, every year. It’s been fun getting to know them and play with them and getting to experience it (as well as) my coaches, all three of them. It was said, thought. Tonight was a teary night.”

Menendez won Game 2 and Game 3 comfortably, opening up double-digit leads in both games.

Afterward, St. Augustine volleyball coach Hannah Richardson was succinct.

“They were the better team as a whole tonight,” Richardson said. “They are a good team.”

The Falcons are not only a good team, but one that has been together for years. All seven Falcons seniors have been on the varsity for at least two years and that time together is why they believe they are winning at a rate that hasn’t been seen in south St. Augustine in half a decade.

“This has been an amazing season,” O’Nell said. “To be 18-5 my senior year, it’s absolutely amazing. How close we are has an impact on our success. Everyone has been so close and it’s been a heck of a season.”

Statistical Leaders

Menendez 3, St. Augustine 0

Kills

St. Augustine: Alexandra Petrilli 10

Menendez: Emily Ward 8, Marley Banton 8, Eden Edgell 5, Kim O’Nell 4

Assists

St. Augustine: Madison Canova 11

Menendez: Ashlyn Banton 23

Digs

St. Augustine: Jordan Taylor 8

Menendez: Marley Banton 11, Edgell 8, Ward 7, Julia Owenby 3, Madolyn Spossey 1

Blocks

St. Augustine: Petrilli 1

Menendez: Edgell 2, Ashlyn Edmondson 1

Aces

St. Augustine: Petrilli 2, Taylor 2, Leena Gentry 2

Menendez: A. Banton 7, Allison Melgard 2

Records: St. Augustine 12-11, Menendez 18-5.

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