Cavs clinch state berth

Published 11:15 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

The Lakeland High School boys’ volleyball team clinched a state tournament bid with a 3-0 win over Deep Creek High School Wednesday evening.

Lakeland accomplished school history with the win. It is the first time the Lakeland boys’ volleyball program has ever achieved a state tournament bid. Aside from the state tournament berth, Lakeland had not won a regional game before this year.

“It is a great achievement for us, especially for all of the seniors on the team,” senior Hunter Rawls said. “Most of us have been playing for four years, and we finally got over the hump and made it to states.”

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The accomplishment is so fulfilling for Lakeland because of what they went through to get to this point. Lakeland plays in a tough district for volleyball while also being the among the smallest schools in the district. Lakeland drew a tough matchup every night they stepped on the court against a Southeastern District opponent.

But Lakeland did not allow playing tougher opponents to discourage them. The Cavs saw it as something that was going to help them in the long run against more evenly matched teams.

“It helped us raise our level of play,” Rawls said. “So, when we faced teams that were better matchups for us, we knew we could take advantage.”

Lakeland traveled to Heritage High School Thursday evening to play for the regional championship. Heritage took the win, but the Cavs played well in spurts. They played with a lot of effort, but ultimately Heritage took advantage of the Cavs’ mistakes. Lakeland made the second set exciting but lost it 25-21. Coming into the game Thursday, Heritage had been undefeated. However, the Cavs did not hold their heads down. After all, they are the region runner-up.

Because they finished second in the region, they will likely have to travel for their first game of the state tournament, while Heritage will likely get a home game.

The seniors know they can continue to make their last season memorable, and that is what coach Tarijuana Napoleon has been reminding them of. They are trying to go out with a bang this season and will look to do it by achieving a state championship.