As in, BOOM — a thunderous kill from Eno Inyang; and BOOM — a powerful shot from Abbie Tutor; and BOOM — a big block to the floor from Paige Alise.
Those were set up by digs from Brooke Singleton and Jecenyes Martinez, sets from Kaylee Tutor and aces from Jazmin Santiago.
The booms turned to cheers when Aniesha Neff, another one of the pieces of St. Cloud High’s district championship team, the school’s first since 2000, came off the bench to serve out the final game and the match. Neff was injured in the District 6A-10 tournament, and put the exclamation point on the 25-21, 25-15, 25-15 regional semifinal playoff win.
The Bulldogs (21-4) move on to next Tuesday’s Region 3 final at Winter Springs at 7 p.m. for a place in the state Final Four after dispatching the Bulls (13-11), a district champion. St. Cloud nullified being the smaller team by size, for a change, by being better.
“We pulled it off. We’d get the breaks and then hold onto the momentum,” Coach Ettie Singleton said. “I was nervous about their setter, and we kept them from swinging, then we broke away in the second set. We kept getting three, four points in a row and kept the momentum and limited our mistakes. We dominated in the middle, I’d rather we spread the ball around.
“We went a week without playing and that’s a really long time in volleyball. They’re exhausted, but (the state) has drawn this out. Their season’s now three weeks longer, but we’ve done a real good job of just focusing on the next game.”
The teams traded booms, kills and points through most of the first set, making the crowd think they’d be in for a long night. Tied at 19, the Bulldogs rattled off four points thanks to a Kaylee Tutor ace, two Abbie Tutor kills and another from Santiago. Up 23-21, the teams traded blows during a long point; Martinez had a dig of a big Bulls hit that kept the point alive. Kaylee Tutor would put it away, then Inyang ended the set with a thunderous shot that all but created an echo.
Bloomingdale had no answers in the next two sets as the Bulldogs were romping. St. Cloud won nine of 10 points to take a 15-6 lead in the second, and won 16 of the last 22 in the third set to close the match.