For the final time, they filed off their home court Monday morning following their final practice of the season there.
They have at least one, but hopefully two more matches left.
Players on the Fort Myers Green Wave volleyball team hope to walk out of the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee late this morning and early Wednesday evening as winners.
At 10 a.m. today, the Green Wave, ranked No. 2 in the state’s Class 6A rankings with a 26-3 record, will face No. 1 Ocala Vanguard (18-9) in the Class 6A state semifinals. The Green Wave are ranked No. 77 in the nation.
Vanguard was 26-1 but had to forfeit eight matches because of an ineligible player.
Should Fort Myers win, it would face the St. Augustine-Lakewood Ranch winner at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday for the Class 6A state championship.
All of the games will be played at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
“We’re all very excited,” Fort Myers senior setter Danielle Matte.
The Green Wave players said they knew little about Vanguard.
“You try to stay away from that and just play our game,” Matte said.
Vanguard and Fort Myers shared one common opponent this season in Gainesville. Fort Myers defeated Gainesville 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 in a tournament. Vanguard defeated Gainesville four times this season, most recently 18-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-13 in the playoffs.
“I know nothing about them,” Fort Myers senior outside hitter Whitney Letourneau said of the Vanguard Knights. “I like it that way. If you think they’re really good, or you think they’re really bad, that can affect how you play.”
Defensive specialist Kenzi Gustason, outside hitter Emily Gear, Matte and Letourneau, the four senior starters, were the final four players to leave the practice court Monday.
They each said they hoped to win the title not just for themselves, but for coach Stephanie Martin, who in 17 seasons has taken the Wave to the FHSAA Finals seven times, reaching five championship games but having yet to win one.
Fort Myers won the state title in 1990, prior to Martin’s arrival as coach.
The Green Wave have lost three matches this season: Twice to Class 7A Venice and once to Mercy (Ky.).
“They learned they have to stay focused all the time,” Martin said of her players.