Lady Brahmans defeat Eau Gallie, fall short against Jensen

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee Lady Brahmans volleyball team dominated the Eau Gallie Commodores in the district playoff quarter final on Oct. 16, winning in three sets by the scores of 25-10, 25-11 and 25-16.

Believe it or not, early in the first two sets the points discrepancy was even more lopsided than the final scores show. At one point in the first set the Lady Brahmans were up 17-2, before Eau Gallie put together a small rally. In the second set Okeechobee jumped out to a 20-5 lead.

OHS freshman Joy Whipple sends the ball over the Eau Gallie defense in the district quarter final match up on Oct. 16. Photo by Richard Marion.

Head coach Taylor Padrick says that mistakes by the Lady Brahmans that tended to come in clusters stopped the team from completely shutting out the Eau Gallie squad.

“One of the things we’ve been pushing them on is the fact that we have a tendency to turn one error into three or four,” said Padrick. “So we’ve been preaching that if there is one error, lets clean it up and not have it stretch. They did well with that in the first two sets, but we noticed it happening in the third set. That’s when you saw a lot of that back and forth between the two teams.”

The third set was the most competitive of the three. For the first time all match Eau Gallie kept pace with Okeechobee, even taking a one-point lead at times. Late in third set, when the score was tied 16-16, the Lady Brahmans were able to put a stop to the mistakes that had been snowballing and score nine unanswered points to win the game and advance to the district semi-final.

OHS junior Ashley Snyder thinks overconfidence by the Lady Brahmans let Eau Gallie keep pace with Okeechobee in the last set.

“I think we just knew we could beat them so we got lackadaisical,” explained Snyder. “At the end we just realized that we need to actually play so we got it together. I think we played well and were all in sync. In previous games we’ve had a lot of mental errors and I think tonight we were able to clean that up.”

Snyder led the team in digs with 16. While freshman Joy Whipple led the team in kills with eight, followed by senior Delaney Jones with six. Freshmen Kiersten Kennedy and Anja Koivunea led the team in serving aces against Eau Gallie with five and three respectively.

The win meant the team would face the Jensen Beach Lady Falcons in the district semi final on Oct. 17. Jensen has long been a thorn in the Lady Brahmans volleyball program’s side.

“Jensen has always been a mental block for us because we can never get past them,” said Padrick. “At the beginning of this season we were able to take one set off of them, which we haven’t been able to do in years. So that gave them the mindset that they do this if they show up. But you have to show up.”

With the infusion of young new talent this school year, the Lady Brahmans weren’t going to be an easy out for Jensen like they have been in the past. In the first set, Okeechobee battled in a close back and forth game before Jensen was able to win 26-24. In the second set the Lady Brahmans showed some resiliency and came back to win 27-25. With the match tied 1-1 Okeechobee was looking at finally being able to take down Jensen Beach after years of not being able to make so much as a scratch.

But those mistakes that Padrick warned the team of reared their head again, and Okeechobee lost the third set 25-17. The fourth and final set saw Jensen win by it’s biggest margin of the night, 25-15.

Still, despite the loss to Jensen, the Lady Brahmans should be proud of their success this year. They’re a young team with many players just now getting their first experience of varsity volleyball. With a team stacked with six freshmen who were major contributors this year, the Lady Brahmans should be prepared to make playoff runs for the next three years. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll take down Jensen Beach in the process.

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