The seniors of Flagler Palm Coast’s volleyball team had never experienced victory over rival Matanzas in their entire high school careers.
The Bulldogs dominated the opening two sets of their match against the Pirates on the night of Thursday, Aug. 22, winning 25-20 and 26-16, respectively.
However, the Pirates, on the brink of elimination, battled back in the third set. The Bulldogs recorded multiple errors — they hit errant shots, missed passes and struggled to defend against the Pirates' hitting.
"There's always that concern that you ride a rollercoaster. But we've been focusing on trying to come back from stuff like that, and tonight we proved that we could do it."
FPC coach Trent Schake on the team's comeback after its loss in the third set
Matanzas’ top player, Briana Whitfield, slammed a spike to close the set 25-12.
After a strong start, it felt like momentum was slipping away from the Bulldogs.
Heading into the fourth set, FPC head coach Trent Schake gathered his team. He spoke directly to the seniors: This was it. This was their last chance to beat the Pirates on FPC’s home floor.
“They had to turn it on,” Schake said. “And they did.”
The two teams went back and forth, but FPC prevailed, winning the set 25-20 to upset the Pirates. The Bulldogs were led by junior Valerie Shum, who recorded a team-high 11 kills and 4 service points.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Schake said. “They always put together and great team, and we always have a great rivalry. It was a very fun night. But to beat them in four sets was a really big honor.”
The Bulldogs credited their success to the rowdy crowd that packed the school’s gym.
“The first three years, the atmosphere was kind of scary,” team captain and senior Ele Barnaby said. “But this is my last go-around. So I was going to enjoy it.”
Fellow captain and senior Mariah Siebert added: “We can’t thank the fans enough. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”