Wildcats declaw the Tigers in straight sets 3-0 on senior night

Forest’s Emma Truluck (5) spikes the ball past Dunnellon’s Kendal Brenneman (11) during a volleyball match at Forest High School in Ocala on Wednesday, Oct. 13. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
With nine seniors in its lineup, it seemed like Forest’s pregame senior night celebration took almost as long as the actual volleyball game Wednesday night against the visiting Dunnellon Tigers.

The Wildcats won the Oct. 13 prep match in three-straight sets—25-5, 25-6, 25-10—taking little more than an hour to defeat their opponent.

Forest improved its overall record to 14-9 with only one game remaining in the regular season. Dunnellon wrapped up its regular season against the Wildcats, finishing the year 3-10.

Wildcat seniors honored before the game includes Aubrey O’Cull, Madilyn Jerald, Isabella Tobon, Emma Truluck, Abby Eckenroth, Sheridan Turner, Paris Masi, Emma Santi and Mackenzie Williams.

Three Dunnellon seniors—Yeilani Rosario, Megan Mills and Anstasia Eustache—were similarly honored with roses by their host.

In the first set, O’Cull would get the ball rolling early for the Wildcats. Behind her service, Forest accrued 13 straight points before Dunnellon scored its first point off an O’Cull fault.

O’Cull would finish the match with seven aces and one kill.

Fellow senior Truluck would help Forest regain it’s composure, scoring one ace from three serves at the line, giving the Wildcats the 17-4 lead.

Truluck had a total of three kills in the match.

From there, Eckenroth guided the first set to its dominant Wildcat conclusion. The senior Wildcat served three-straight aces, followed by two Dunnellon errors and a Santi kill, capping things off in the first frame 25-5.

In set two, three Wildcats figured largely in Forest taking an early lead: Mackenzie Danner had two aces; followed by Kailyn Howard, who had one ace; and Ava Herron served next, hitting three aces.

By the time Herron had finished her service duty, Forest was leading the set 16-4.

Dallas Papy (three-straight aces) and Danner again (two aces) would help to wrap up set two 25-6 from the service line.

In the third set, Dunnellon would keep things close early. It was 4-2 in favor of the Wildcats, but Dunnellon couldn’t withstand the depth of talent Forest had behind the service line.

Senior Tobon would help Forest pull away for good in the middle of the frame, hitting three-straight aces as the Wildcats scored seven-straight points behind her service, giving Forest the 12-2 advantage.

The Tigers would again fight back, getting within 10 points (16-6), but the Wildcats were too far in the lead, ultimately winning the third and final set 25-10.

Dunnellon’s Macie Dewitz had a kill and a blocked shot in Wednesday’s match. Teammate Kendal Brenneman also had a kill.

Forest’s final game of the regular season is scheduled for Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. against Venice on the road.

On Oct. 19, the No. 3 seed Wildcats will host the No. 6 seed Buchholz Bobcats at 7 p.m. for a District 6A-3 quarterfinal match.

The No. 6 seed Tigers face off against the No. 3 seed Crystal River Pirates on Oct. 18 in the District 4A-4 quarterfinals, starting at 7 p.m. at Santa Fe High School.

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