LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Lakewood Ranch High volleyball team always wants to keep improving.
Whether it’s adding more players to the rotation, working hard in practice or simply maintaining their focus day in and day out, the Lady Mustangs are doing everything in their power to reach their goal of repeating as Class 6A-District 12 champions.
To some, it may appear as if Lakewood is well on its way to capturing its second consecutive district championship after having swept Seminole Osceola 3-0 in district action Sept. 27.
The Lady Mustangs beat last year’s district runner-up 25-12, 25-7, 25-21 to earn their second district victory of the season.
But Lakewood coach Perri Hankins knows that although the Lady Mustangs could be the favorite heading into the Class 6A-District 12 tournament later this month, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“We still have a lot to do,” Hankins said. “We’re not where we need to be. We’re still working on things.
“We’re trying to play some people, so we have more options to go to later on,” Hankins said. “We just want to add something all the time and make our team better.”
The Lady Mustangs returned home after finishing second in the Hillsborough Community College High School Classic Sept. 21 and Sept. 22. It was only the third time the Lady Mustangs had been home all month.
Lakewood came out focused and controlled on its home court for most of the game against an opponent who proved to be less experienced than the team it played in the regional semifinals one season ago.
The Lady Mustangs took a commanding 15-4 lead in game one and never looked back. After easily winning its first two games, Lakewood relaxed a little in the third game as it rotated several new players into the lineup.
Lakewood’s brief lapse of focus allowed the Lady Warriors to tie the game at 19-19, before the Lady Mustangs won six of the final eight points.
“I think we did a good job of coming out and playing against a team that wasn’t quite as experienced,” Hankins said. “We were happy to be back home. We’ve been working hard in practice. I thought we held our focus really well and played pretty hard.”
Mariah Robertson paced the Lady Mustangs with 10 kills, two aces and 10 digs. Ashlyn Falahee added six kills and one block. Nicole Grant had six kills and two blocks. Emily Ruple finished with two kills, one block, five assists and two digs. Lauren Owens had one block and one dig. Ali Milbourn finished with five kills, one block, one ace and 23 assists. Jordan Wopinski had one kill, one assist and seven digs. Savannah Sears had two kills, and Layne Thompson finished with five kills and one assist.
Lakewood returns to action Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 in the Manatee County Tournament, before hosting Dixie Hollins in its final district match of the regular season Oct. 9.
“We want to go as far as we can this year; and it starts with taking each district game and winning and then getting back into practice and getting better,” Hankins said.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].