At this stage of the game, winning big doesn’t matter to the Fort Myers High School volleyball team. Advancing does.
The Green Wave did just that Tuesday night at the Cougar Den, defeating host Barron Collier 25-20, 25-20, 25-21 in the Region 6A-4 semifinals.
Fort Myers will play host to Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy at 2 p.m. Saturday for the Region 6A-4 championship and the right to play in the FHSAA Finals on Monday in Kissimmee. McCarthy defeated Hollywood Hills 25-20, 25-14, 25-18 on Tuesday.
Fort Myers is looking to win the first volleyball state title in school history since defeating Tampa Plant 15-8, 15-10 for the Class 3A championship in 1990.
“We’re in the regionals, so we’ve been expecting better competition,” said Fort Myers senior Kenzi Gustason, who led the Green Wave with 16 digs. “They were coming after us.”
Barron Collier led 13-12 in the first game, 13-12 in the second game and 15-14 in the third game.
“They’re very steady with that,” Fort Myers coach Stephanie Martin said of her players not getting rattled. “They play one point at a time.”
Fort Myers, nationally ranked No. 77 by prepvolleyball.com, improved to 25-3. Barron Collier finished its season with a 20-7 record.
Whenever Barron Collier began threatening the Green Wave, Fort Myers senior setter Danielle Matte looked for sophomore middle blocker Anna Cedarburg.
“She’s my go-to girl,” said Matte, who led her team with 36 assists and also had 11 digs.
Cedarburg had 10 kills. Junior Chelsea Oliver had a team-high 13 kills.
“We were focused,” Cedarburg said. “They came out strong, and they played good defense.”
Many of the Barron Collier and Fort Myers players teamed together during the offseason on a club volleyball team.
“It makes it more difficult,” Matte said, as players on both teams understood each other’s tendencies. The camaraderie also has its benefits. “It makes it more fun. It’s more intense.”