By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
It took just one hour and seven minutes for Osceola’s volleyball team to dispatch Wellington on Wednesday night, as the Lady Kowboys routed the Wolverines in straight sets (25-15, 25-14, 25-19) to advance to Saturday’s FHSAA Class 7A Region 2 semifinals.
“Not saying it’s ever easy because it’s not, but we had the advantage of being a number one seed in the region and that gave us a home game against an eight seed,” Osceola coach Carrie Palmi said. “We played a difficult schedule during the regular season and I think that prepared us for the post-season. We felt we matched up well with tonight’s opponent and we played a solid game.”
With the win, Osceola (24-4) will now host number four seed Jupiter (19-5). The Warriors are a traditional state power that has won 44 of their last 50 matches and they were also the Class 7A state runner-up last season — finishing with a 25-1 record.
The teams did not play this year, nor did either side play a common opponent in 2022. “No advantage either way,” Palmi said about the upcoming match with Jupiter. “We really don’t know much about their personnel but they are in the same boat. There’s so much tape available out there that we will spend the next couple of days studying them and coming up with a game plan and they will do the same. It should be a great match-up.”
The match, at Kowboys Gym, is tentatively slated for an 11 a.m. start. An Osceola win also means they would host the Regional Finals on Nov. 2.
On Wednesday, Osceola would dominate the Wellington (12-9) match from the beginning.
After trading points early, the Lady Kowboys would build leads of 10-6, 16-7 and 20-14 to easily cruise to the set one victory. Freshman Cate Palmi led Osceola to the game one win with six kills and two aces.
Game two was even more lopsided as the Lady Kowboys built an 11-5 lead and were never challenged. Senior Kaitlyn Taylor has four kills and two aces in the game and helped spark 7-0 run as Osceola jumped out to a 20-6 lead and cruised to the win.
Wellington finally put together a challenge in the third set, grabbing a 12-6 lead. But after gaining serve as 12-7, Isa Echevarria would hold serve for seven consecutive points as Osceola forged in front 14-12. Freshman Sophie Spivey would have three consecutive kills in the run to help spur on Osceola. “Not sure whether we were relaxing a little too much or what, but after we fell behind we needed a spark. Isa being able to hold serve gave it to us and Sophie did a great job from the right side,” Palmi said.
The teams stayed close with Wellington going up 16-14, but Osceola went on another big 5-0 run and would nine of the last 12 points of the game to close out the match. Palmi had an outstanding match with 19 kills, two aces and a block at the net; while Taylor had 12 kills, two aces and a block. Spivey finished with six kills.