LeRoy overcomes early jitters, wins regional title
LeROY — DeLand-Weldon’s Rowan Crozier scored the first three points of the match — block, kill, block — but that’s where the Eagles’ dominance ended and LeRoy’s began.
The Panthers took a 5-4 lead after an early timeout and never trailed the rest of the match on their way to a 25-13, 25-11 victory in a Class 1A regional championship Thursday night.
“What I’m proud of is that the girls didn’t mess around,” LeRoy coach M.C. Deming said. “They took care of business. They didn’t let the rallies go on because our hitters did a phenomenal job of putting the ball down.”
Sophomore Kaylin Vallero notched six kills to lead LeRoy to its first regional title. Junior Libby Walls added five kills and 2.5 blocks.
Junior setter Briana Retter had a match-high 13 assists filling in for senior Lauren Russell, who rolled her ankle during warmups. Russell tried to play in the second set, but she asked her coach to sub Retter back in for her.
Deming was proud of her team’s unselfishness.
“Briana did phenomenal. It was the most mature I’ve seen her and our players all season,” Deming said. “Lauren said, ‘Sub Bri in for me. I want her to come in for me.’ Those kinds of things people don’t see, but they make a huge difference. They were a mature team tonight.”
There were a few tears as the Eagles left the gym, but coach Jay Schatz said his team has plenty to be proud of, including winning a school-record 24 matches this season and going more than six weeks without a loss.
“They exceeded my expectations,” Schatz said. “We don’t have anything to feel bad about. We won the conference tournament championship for the first time, too. We had a lot of firsts this year.”
Schatz said the Eagles played their best match of the year in Tuesday’s regional semifinal against Fisher and unfortunately played their only bad match Thursday night.
“That’s the best serving we’ve seen all season. We just couldn’t get a hit off of it,” Schatz said. “When we got a hit, LeRoy played such good defense, we couldn’t get it on the floor. They kept us off balance. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
Crozier recorded a team-high four kills for the Eagles, who got three kills and five assists from senior Brooke Kimball.