Ponte Vedra volleyball team stays ‘grounded’ in another Final Four appearance

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When the Ponte Vedra High girls volleyball team lost five seniors from it 2019 state championship team, the Sharks didn’t panic.

They reloaded.

Ponte Vedra earned a spot in the Class 5A Final Four last week with three-match sweep of Wakulla to set up a rematch with last year’s championship runner-up, Vanguard.

“We had a great year last year,” coach Robin Mignerey said. “We lost five seniors, then we had some transfers. I was getting phone calls [during the offseason] from players who were moving here. I’m so glad so many people want to move here.”

Outside hitter Amy Burkhardt moved from the Washington, D.C., area. Right side hitter Rachel Johnson came from California and libero Lilly Zeras arrived from Winter Park.

Despite the distractions and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sharks have maintained their focus to win all 25 games this year.

“We’ve got a good thing going,” Mignerey said. “We’ve got two more games in the next two weeks.”

The Sharks play at Ocala at 2 p.m. on Saturday in a semifinal game. The winner will play either Tampa Robinson or Jensen Beach on Nov. 14 at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers for the state championship.

Mignerey said the player who makes it all work is sophomore setter Jessica Shattles.

“She’s like a point guard,” Mignerey said. “She’s also a non-glory player. She doesn’t really wow you, but she’s one of the most-physical players we have on the team.

“She runs everything.”

Shattles had 33 assists when Ponte Vedra eliminated Wakulla, 25-12, 25-20, 25-18, on Oct. 131 in the Region 1-5A finals.

Mignerey said her squad has learned to appreciate what they’ve accomplished – and what’s ahead. With so much doubt continuing to affect sports schedules, the Sharks have embraced living in the moment.

“We’ve had a good year, but you never know when it could all come to an end,” Mignerey said. “We appreciate each day. It helps keeps us grounded. It’s hard to play with the added pressure that everyone’s trying to beat you. It can be hard to keep that focus. But we do it by going day by day.”

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