West Port eases past Belleview in volleyball

Wolf Pack avenge early season loss to Rattlers

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Posted September 26, 2023 | Story by Mark Pinson
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Improving and jelling as a team as the season progresses is vital to having a successful season. West Port is proof of that as the Wolf Pack extracted a certain amount of revenge for an early season loss by knocking off Belleview by scores of 25-19, 22-25, 25-21 and 25-20 on Tuesday night.

The win was the fourth in a row for West Port and improved the Class 7A Wolf Pack to 6-7 on the season.

“Our tallest player is 5-foot 9, but the girls are scrappy and cover a lot of ground,” said West Port coach Mike Rasdall. “We lost to Belleview in four sets earlier this season, so this was a little pay back. We’ve played a tough schedule to prepare for the district tournament.”

The loss was the seventh in a row for Belleview and dropped the Class 5A Rattlers to 4-11 overall.

“West Port played great and they moved the ball around and kept us guessing where they were going to attack from,” said Belleview coach Lindsay Seek-Camara. “Bad serves hurt us and we needed to have a sense of urgency. That’s kind of been our story all year so far, our emotions are all over the place. We’re either in it or we’re not and it’s kind of been a roller coaster this year.”

The first set was tied at 11 before West Port sophomore outside hitter Janieliz Rivera had a pair of kills and junior Almarelis Malave drilled back-to-back ace serves to help the Wolf Pack pull away.

Belleview battled back behind strong play at the net from sophomore outside hitter Kyndall Seek, who had a spike and a block to pull the Rattlers within 23-19.

West Port freshman middle hitter Gaveena Smith found a hole in the Belleview defense with a spike and Rivera drilled a kill shot down the line to seal the first set for the Wolf Pack.

The second set was close throughout with seven ties. Belleview took advantage of several service errors by West Port to seize the lead and Seek, who had a team-high 12 kills, hammered a winning spike to even the match at one set apiece.

West Port controlled the action in the third set as senior outside hitter Ayanna Blocker and Rivera took turns blasting spikes into the floor. Senior Kendall Smith contributed a pair of ace serves and added a spike to clinch the third set for the Wolf Pack.

The final set was tied at 9, as Belleview’s Kahleah Lancaster and Seek battled at the net on even terms with the West Port front line.

The Wolf Pack pulled ahead by a score of 20-13 behind excellent sets by Malave, who finished with 39 assists, and powerful spikes by Blocker, who had 11 kills, and Rivera, who finished with a match-high 20 kills.

Belleview refused to fold and clawed back within 24-20, but West Port stayed composed and closed out the set and the match with a cross-court spike by Smith.

With the district tournaments for each team only three weeks away, staying healthy and rounding into form at the right time is of the utmost importance.

West Port is back in action on Thursday night with an away match at Seven Rivers Christian. Belleview is also on the road on Thursday night with an away match at P.K. Yonge in Gainesville.

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