Strong start to playoffs for Sharks

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The Ponte Vedra volleyball team kicked off their quest for a third straight state title with a sweep of visiting Pensacola Booker T. Washington, 25-16, 25-6, 25-13, in the class 6A regional quarterfinals Oct. 27.

Both teams traded points to start with, neither side able to make run until the Sharks eventually got going and established a 17-13 lead in the first set.

“We always seem to start off really slow, but once we’re able to take a deep breath and start playing clean, that’s when we succeed,” senior Rachel Johnson said.

However, Booker T. Washington stormed back and cut the deficit to one, 17-16, following a timeout.

Johnson quieted the Wildcats’ run with a nice touch shot for one of her 12 kills on the night.

It was immediately followed by kills from Chelsea Sutton and Kendall Mignerey.

Johnson blocked a shot that dropped in for another point down the stretch, as the Sharks scored eight straight to win 25-16.

“We have the talent, but we just need to keep our mindset good,” Johnson said. “This team does well because we’ve been in those situations before.”

The Sharks were able to carry that momentum for the rest of the contest and took control of the second and third sets from the onslaught.

They jumped out to a 13-2 lead to start the second set and never let their foot off the gas en route to a 25-6 victory, while the third set was much of the same.

In both the second and third sets the Sharks strung together lengthy scoring runs when Ava Grall was serving.

“She has a knuckleball (serve) that doesn’t spin, it just kind of floats through the air,” Ponte Vedra head coach Robin Mignerey said. “She did a great job of getting them (Wildcats) frustrated.”

Kendall Mignerey also proved dangerous with her service game with five aces and nine kills.  

Sutton and Grall have really begun to come into their own as players in their sophomore seasons.

“She’s definitely come out of her shell a little bit,” Johnson said. “She is our wall up front, because nothing gets past her.”

Sutton was a consistent force around the net and found multiple ways to contribute with six kills, two blocks and two assists.

“She’s usually more of a true blocker, but she made some heads up plays with some sets, and that’s something she’s been working on,” Mignerey said.

Zeta Washington led the Sharks with 14 kills to accompany Johnson’s 12. Jessica Shattles had a team high 35 assists.

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