The Oasis volleyball team is not ready to see its historic playoff run come to an end. The Sharks held off a two-set comeback to defeat Bishop Verot 25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 15-8 in a Region 4A semifinal on Tuesday night in their home gym.
After the Vikings had won two straight sets to tie the match, the Sharks entered the fifth set with renewed vigor. Senior Danielle Bebber’s jump serve scored five straight points — including an ace — to take a 10-3 lead. After that, it was largely academic.
“We definitely knew that this was our game,” Oasis senior Larra Bickelhaupt said.
Bebber’s freshman sister, Samantha, was a spark in the fifth set as well, with two kills and a block.
Throughout the match, it was Bickelhaupt who provided the floor leadership, with a double-double of 16 kills, 20 digs and four aces. Her contribution of six kills helped the Sharks come back from a 7-point deficit to win the second set.
This is the first playoff appearance in school history for the Sharks (21-8), and they have toppled area powers in the process. They kept LaBelle out of the playoffs for the first time since 2008 with a district semifinal win two weeks ago. Now they can add the toppling of Verot (21-6), a program that was in its 18th straight postseason appearance, to that list.
With five seniors that have played together for the last four years, the Sharks knew that this was their last chance to make a splash.
“We knew at the beginning of the season that this is the year that we’ve got to make a run,” Oasis coach James Mikolajczyk said. “We’ve been talking about it all year.”
The win gives the Sharks another home match on Saturday as Holy Names will make the trip from Tampa for a regional final. The winner goes to the state semifinals in Kissimmee.
Consistent play combined with Bishop Verot errors put Oasis up early in the first set. Tied 1-1, with a serve into the net that put the Viking side out, Oasis went on a 5-0 run with Bickelhaupt serving. The Vikings did not lead in that set.
“Tons of serving errors on our part, a lot of hitting errors on our part,” Verot coach Jeremy Ridgeo said.
Outside hitter Alyssa Collins’ jump serve lifted Verot to a 5-0 start in the second set. She served two aces in that run. The Vikings led as far as 14-7 before a Bickelhaupt kill sparked an Oasis comeback. Amanda Russell followed with two straight aces and Bickelhaupt pounded another kill into the face of a defender, closing the gap to 3 points. Later, Oasis senior Jordan Westendorf spiked a ball hard enough to make a defender duck, giving the Sharks the lead for good.
Collins and her jump serve again came to Verot’s assistance in the third set. With her serving, the Vikings scored 4 straight points, taking a 6-3 lead that they would not relinquish. She had two aces in that set and 5 in the match.
Outside hitter Teya Leonard led the Vikings to a match-tying win in the fourth set, pounding eight kills, including the winner. Down 12-10, libero Lauren Homolka made a big dig to prevent an Oasis ace. Leonard turned that into a kill, and the momentum shifted Verot’s way. Two plays later, another Leonard kill made it 13-12, a lead that the Vikings held the rest of the set.
“You’ve got to be careful, because good teams can come back on you, and they did,” Mikolajczyk said.
Leonard led the Vikings with 15 kills, while Margaux Fry had 12.
Also for Oasis, Samantha Bebber had 10 kills and three blocks, Westendorf had another three blocks and Tiffany Schramm put up 34 assists.