The Washington Wildcats wrested control of District 1-7A on Thursday night with a home sweep (25-11, 25-20, 27-25) of district rival Pensacola High.
Head coach Kelly Comerford’s Wildcats started fast, rolling easily through the first two sets before fending off the scrappy Tigers in a tight third set.
“They definitely made it tough and gave us a fight,” Comerford said. “We knew going into it that we’d have to fight hard. Even after winning that first set handedly, our girls stayed playing solid the whole way.”
The Tigers (12-3, 4-2) entered Bond Gymnasium on a five-game winning streak and had lost just three sets in September.
Meanwhile Washington (10-9, 6-0) had lost two of its last three on the road at Tate and Gulf Breeze, but the Wildcats weren’t about to relinquish their place at the top of the district.
“That’s like our biggest district win,” libero Marlis Herrick said. “We’re really hoping we can come out on top this year and take home the district championship.”
Washington hit the Tigers with an 8-0 run to open the match and that momentum carried into a second set which the Wildcats won comfortably.
Pensacola High hit back in the third, breaking out to a 4-0 lead and eventually earning two consecutive set points. But a well-timed Comerford timeout broke the Tigers’ momentum, allowing the Wildcats to finish off the win.
“We play a lot of drills in practice with the situation neck-and-neck together,” Washington’s Paula Bernstein said. “We’re really good when it gets to be like 24-24 or 26-25.”
The Wildcats have been hardened this season by a challenging non-district schedule, something Comerford said she designed intentionally for district games like this.
“I tried to go out there and schedule every one of our non-district opponents to either be better than or equal to us,” Comerford said. “We’ve had a lot of really close, really tough losses. Four and five-set losses… We’ve really tried to pack every non-district game being somebody really, really tough.”
Now in control of their district destiny, Comerford and the Wildcats hope to continue their momentum through the rest of the season and into the district tournament, which will be hosted at Washington.
“That’s like our biggest district win,” Herrick said. “We’re really hoping we can come out on top this year and take home the district championship.”
Washington def. Pensacola High, 3-0
25-11, 25-20, 27-25
Washington: Teah Wiley 11 kills, 12 digs, 2 aces; Kortney Way 11 kills, 3 digs; Bree Kelly 6 kills, 7 digs, 2 aces, 1 block; Taya Mata 6 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig, 1 ace, 1 block; Paula Bernstein 3 kills, 1 assist, 4 digs, 1 ace; Sophia Madison 2 kills, 1 dig, 1 block; Ellie Bauder 20 assists, 3 aces; Addison Haskew 13 assists, 1 dig; Marlis Herrick 13 digs, 4 aces; Selena Williams 6 digs; Brennah Coffin 5 digs. Pensacola High: Maya Humeda 1 kill, 9 assists, 9 digs, 1 ace; Liana Patterson 2 kills, 6 kills, 1 ace; Ra’Kell Watts 2 kills, 2 blocks,1 digs, 1 ace; Heidi Neumann 5 kills, 4 assists, 5 digs; Maddy Langley 4 digs, 1 ace; Callie Neumann 3 kills, 12 digs, Dina Razek 4 digs; Jordan Barnes 1 dig; Hannah Meyers 1 kill, 2 blocks. Next: Washington (10-9, 6-0) hosts Milton on Thursday. Pensacola High (12-3, 4-2) hosts Milton on Tuesday.