WEEKI WACHEE – The Weeki Wachee volleyball team took another step toward at least matching last season’s run to the Elite Eight on Tuesday night.
Hosting Gulf in a Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinal, the Lady Hornets blanked the visitors in three games, 25-15, 27-25, 25-16, advancing to a semifinal Friday night starting 7 p.m. at Fivay.
“It’s anybody’s game. They’re going to keep on pushing. They want to go as far as they can go,” Weeki Wachee head coach Kelly Werkmeister said. “We’re going to ride it until God says it’s time for us to end.”
That time hasn’t come yet for the Lady Hornets (20-8), who outside of a stretch in the second game generally held the upper hand throughout the match.
Sarah Asbury served six points on her second turn at serve in the first game to open a 19-9 advantage, and two aces and three points served by Kelsey Manns made it 24-14. Taylor Miller recorded the game-winning kill.
A seven-point service turn by Miranda Werkmeister gave Weeki Wachee a 9-4 lead in the second game, and Manns served four more to push it to 14-8.
But the Lady Buccaneers (12-10) clawed their way back, leading 21-19 before once again the Lady Hornets cashed in with Werkmeister toeing the back line, scoring three points to go back in front, 23-21.
Gulf twice tied it but couldn’t land the knockout blow, allowing Weeki Wachee to survive and take a 2-0 edge in the match overall.
“They (the Lady Hornets) needed to really start playing our game,” Coach Werkmeister said. “Playing the slow ball is what they started playing down to, and they need to stay focused and play the way we play. They had a couple of mistakes in the beginning, they stayed strong, they pushed forward. But that’s what they ended up doing toward the end.
“Second game is what pretty much opened up their eyes, understand that they’re (the Lady Bucs) not going away and to fight, and they came back. They’ve just got to stay strong. When you’re playing slower ball, that’s what ended up happening to them.”
In the third, Gulf received a pair of quick aces from Danielle Seabolt and led 4-0. Yet the Lady Hornets rallied back, scoring the final seven points of the match, six of them with Amberlyn Werkmeister serving.
Though it wasn’t the sharpest performance, Weeki Wachee continued to show off solid depth up front. Brooke Sereda paced the team with 10 kills, followed by Miranda Werkmeister with nine. Seytia Hill and Bri Grayson Simon had six apiece, and Taylor Miller added four.
“Between Miranda and Brooke, they’re our go-to hitters right now. Taylor mixes it up, she keeps the middle working, she’s going left and right,” Coach Werkmeister said. “Both of them (Miranda Werkmeister and Sereda) really did have an off night; everybody really did.
“Girls are a little sore right now but it’s just something they got to work through. They want to get stronger and move on, they’ve just got to have heart and hustle.”
Asbury added 33 assists, while libero Amber Paulsen had 23 digs. Still, the consensus seemed to be that the Lady Hornets will need an improved showing moving forward this postseason, starting with the matchup with Fivay.
“We played pretty slow. Hopefully practice will be better for Friday,” Sereda said. “I don’t think we really played with heart. We just kind of winged it and hoped for the best. But hopefully Friday will be better.
“I want to move forward. I want to go further than the Elite Eight last year. But it’s all in how we play.”
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.