Senior Valeria Rosado carried Lyman to its first-ever state volleyball final, tallying 32 kills on Saturday to lead the Greyhounds to a 25-16, 25-16, 25-17 victory over Lake Brantley in a Class 7A state semifinal match.
The Greyhounds (28-1) will play Lake Nona (21-3) in an all-Central Florida final on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in Fort Myers. The Florida High School Athletic Association championship matches will be played at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
“We’re so excited, but we’re not stopping here,” said Lyman’s Sky Raphael, who had 14 kills and 15 digs. “We’re going to keep working hard all the way to states.”
Lake Nona was down two sets to one on the road but rallied to win 25-20, 19-25, 15-25, 25-23, 15-10 against Tampa Plant (21-10).
Friday’s final will be the first for both programs and will mark the third time two Orlando area teams square off in a title game. Winter Park topped Timber Creek for the large-classification title in 2006 and defeated Lake Mary in a 2013 final.
Lake Highland Prep in 4A and The Geneva School in 2A saw their state title hopes end with tight losses on Saturday.
Rosado and the Greyhounds overcame a height advantage Lake Brantley owned with 6-foot-3 Laura Fischer and 6-4 Laila N’diaye.
Lyman’s Gabriela Pagan led a back row that constantly prepared setter Alanys Viera for success. Pagan had 21 digs and Viera’s sets allowed Lyman hitters to hit around, off or over Lake Brantley’s taller blockers.
Sophomore Sarah Gooch had 12 kills for the Patriots (19-7). N’diaye, a Florida State commitment who returned after missing two months with an ankle injury, had six blocks and nine kills.
Lake Nona coach Jake Penaloza said his team’s match was intense from start to finish.
“I think this was the hardest fought match we’ve had all season and you could see the emotions pour out afterward,” Penaloza said. "There were girls crying during the match. We had three or four of our girls crying after the match. This was a stressful one.
“We got creamed in the third game but the girls showed some resilience.”
Penaloza said the key to the comeback was the ability of a number of players to step up in support of the Lions' leading hitters, senior Cambry Pope and junior Isabella Rujano.
Seniors Nyah Molina, Yulianna Amador, Jexsamarie Perez and Cora Estelle have been key contributors for the Lions this season.
Geneva lost a homecourt heartbreaker. The Knights (14-5) won the opening game but ended up losing 12-25, 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 15-13 in a five-set thriller against Tallahassee St. John Paul II (13-7).
Olivia Kyle had 27 kills in the loss.
Lake Highland Prep’s bid for a repeat state championship ended with a 25-21, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21 loss at Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (7-3).
Ranya Mehta had 16 kills for The Highlanders, who finished 14-5. Karsyn Dickerson had 23 digs. Both are seniors.
This article was first published at OrlandoSentinel.com. Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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