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Top-ranked team too much for Seven Rivers

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 10, 2002

CRYSTAL RIVER -- Third-ranked Seven Rivers Christian finally met its match.

After not losing to a Class A team all season, the Warriors fell 15-7, 15-4 to No. 1 Gainesville Oak Hall in the semifinals. The Eagles (27-3) defeated Maitland Orangewood Christian in the final to advance to the state tournament.

Seven Rivers (28-2) started strong behind Danielle Albury, who entered the match with 453 kills and 157 blocks. With Alice Zeiss serving, Albury's stuff block put the first point on the board and her kill made it 2-0.

Oak Hall got the serve back, but the Warriors regained it when Albury stuff-blocked Oak Hall hitter Rochelle Rubeis.

"I told my coach I don't know how I'm going to get around her because she's like 6-foot-2 and she has a vertical like none other," said Rubeis, who had a match-high seven kills.

An Albury ace put the Warriors up 3-1, but a Seven Rivers net violation gave the serve back to the Eagles. Albury never rotated back to the front row.

"It was so fast, it was like I never got a chance to be in the front row," the senior said.

Oak Hall scored the next nine points before Seven Rivers closed to 10-7 on Lacey Lyons' serve. Rubeis then scored a sideout and the Eagles served out the match.

Oak Hall coach Cari Martin said her team was nervous at the beginning but settled down and took the Warriors out of their system.

"(Albury) is very good," Martin said. "We kept them off task and were serving so aggressively. That allowed us to be able to get some kills and she never even had the opportunity to show what she had."

Albury started the second game in the back row and the Eagles quickly took a 6-0 lead on the serve of Galey Gravenstein. Zeiss stopped the run with an ace, and Albury rotated to the front row where she picked up a block and a kill before heading back to serve.

The Warriors cut the lead in half at 8-4 on a block by Lyons, but the Eagles got on a roll and Gravenstein ended it with an ace on match point.

Six Eagles had at least one kill, while Albury was the lone Warrior to put the ball down with three kills.

Seven Rivers had 10 hitting errors to go along with its 10 setting errors.

Coach Scott Lyons said the Warriors' poor execution and lack of experience factored into the loss.

"It was a learning experience," Lyons said. "It wasn't our time."

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