Celtics roll past Knights in straight sets

Vanguard’s Emma Ehmann (9) spikes the ball past Trinity Catholic’s Elayna Johnson (98) and Emily Hirst (9) during a volleyball match at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Trinity Catholic won the match 3 sets to 0. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted September 24, 2021 | By James Blevins, james@ocalagazette.com

Vanguard’s Emma Ehmann (9) spikes the ball past Trinity Catholic’s Elayna Johnson (98) and Emily Hirst (9) during a volleyball match at Vanguard High School in Ocala on Thursday. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Vanguard had its moments against visiting Trinity Catholic on Sept. 23, but ultimately it couldn’t withstand the barrage of points coming from the defending girls’ volleyball state champs.

The Celtics (12-2) cruised to the win in three straight sets—(25-13, 25-14, 25-17).

Trinity Catholic head coach Jeff Reavis said Vanguard is always a challenge—even if the Knights were down a key player in a critical position.

“They gave us their best,” said Reavis of Vanguard (4-10). “All without their setter, who’s one of the best setters in Central Florida.”

Junior setter Sophie Reed sat out the game with an injury. Fellow junior Maddie Jacobs took her place.

Jacobs finished the night with two kills.

Vanguard head coach Luis Perez said he had to do some reshuffling of his squad.

“We only practiced this new rotation yesterday,” said Perez. “We had Sophie for two weeks [in our previous rotation]. And we played that rotation for 16 matches…and then just changing it [all of a sudden]. But they played pretty well. They fought all the way through.”

The two teams exchanged points for much of the first set. But Trinity Catholic would ride Kiana LaBorde’s service to score eight straight points, pulling away from the Knights.

Trinity Catholic’s Elayna Johnson would hammer home her fifth kill to take set one 25-13.

LaBorde had a total of 14 kills in the match, one block and one serving ace.

Vanguard opened set two with two straight points, but Trinity Catholic responded with five straight of their own with Camden Crews at the service line.

Crews would record two of her six serving aces during the series.

The Knights kept it close, but with the score 19-13 against, the Celtics scored six straight behind Cayleigh Pelletier’s serve.

Pelletier scored an ace during the rally, which allowed the Celtics to win the second set 25-14.

Vanguard again kept it close early in the third set. But with the score at 9-6, Trinity Catholic found its legs and started to move closer to victory.

But Vanguard wouldn’t go quietly. With Adyla Kerley serving, the Knights rallied to within five points, 19-14, late in the third set.

However, Trinity Catholic would take the following three points, putting itself back in control, 22-14.

The two squads would battle back and forth until the Celtics wrapped it up 25-17 to win the match.

Key players for Vanguard included Ronya Hamed, who had two key blocks in a row during the second set. Emma Ehmann had 12 kills. Ruby Owen had five kills and one block.

Trinity Catholic’s Amelia Fitzpatrick led the Celtics with nine kills. Teammate Aariana Gravel-Holtzclaw had three blocks.

Reavis said he’s starting to see his 2020 Class 3A defending state champion Celtics team find its groove.

“We’re playing hard out there. We’re doing really good things. We’re trying to get to a point in the season where we’re able to maintain a really strong level of play, and that’s something that we take a lot of pride in,” said Reavis.

Trinity Catholic will face St. John Lutheran at home on Sept. 28. Vanguard hosts West Port Sept. 27. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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