For the first time, the Orange Belt Conference volleyball champion will be settled on one night after three days of matches, rather than after a season’s worth of competition.
Osceola and St. Cloud, thanks to victories in matches Monday and Tuesday, will face each other Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Poinciana High School for the title.
The Kowboys (14-1) used big runs in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Celebration, breezing by the Storm (11-4), 25-12, 25-15, 25-11. OHS got big games and a team effort from hitters Allison Palmi and Katilin Taylor, setter Janleen De DeJesus and middle blockers Ahnika Johnston and Malina Spencer.
Equally impressive, St. Cloud (14-3) quickly took out Tohopekaliga on Tuesday, 25-12, 25-13, 25-14, behind a solid game from Jasmine Santiago, Kaylee and Abbie Turner and Aniesha Neff.
Osceola Coach Carrie Palmi said she’s looking forward to Thursday, playing for an OBC title and facing a rival to do it — OHS and St. Cloud were seeded No. 1 and 2 for the tournament.
“It’ll be fun, having a game where the OBC is settled on the floor, with the trophy there and everything,” she said.
Tohopekaliga (6-6), who upset No. 3 Gateway on Monday, will play Celebration in Thursday’s third-place game on Thursday at 5 p.m., right before the championship game.
On Wednesday, Harmony will play at Gateway in the fifth-place game, and Liberty hosts Poinciana for seventh-place in the OBC.
The county’s eight teams were seeded based on their MaxPreps computer rankings for the state of Florida. The Florida High School Athletic Association will do the same later this year to seed district and regional tournament brackets.
As for the OBC, the volleyball teams were the “guinea pigs”, as the school district plans to hold similar conference tournaments in the winter and spring for soccer, basketball, baseball and softball.