Volleyball: Warriors get back to final for fifth time

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
Published November 15, 2007

LAKELAND - After watching Bayshore Christian win 31 of 43 points during a dominant stretch in Wednesday's state semifinal match against Merritt Island Christian at the Lakeland Center, a fan in the Cougars' student section was overheard saying, "They're good, dude. They're real good."

It might not have been the most profound statement, but it was accurate.

In a display best described as impressive, Bayshore Christian won 25-11, 27-25, 25-11 to reach the Class A final for the fifth time. The Faith Warriors (27-5) won championships in 1998, 2003 and 2004. They were runnersup in 2005.

"Our goal was to be in that match (today)," Bayshore Christian coach Melanie Humenansky said. "The girls had that mission back in July at team camp."

Bayshore Christian overpowered Merritt Island Christian (27-3) in the first and third games, but was fortunate to escape victorious in the second. After a fierce Cougars rally allowed Merritt Island Christian to take a surprising 25-24 lead, a dink shot by senior setter Ashlea Ballengee (she went one way, the ball went the other) caught the Cougars by surprise and hit the floor for a point.

"It was pretty spontaneous," Ballengee said.

Bayshore Christian won the next two points and never looked back.

Several Faith Warriors gave major contributions, notably Ballengee (23 assists), junior outside hitter Sami Stokes (10 aces, nine kills), senior outside hitter Jannica Mollett (14 kills) and junior libero Sara Lucia (15 digs).

"Our serving and our passing were on," Humenansky said. "We had incredible net play today. I don't think there was a ball that came over the net that was untouched."

Game balls

Ashlea Ballengee, Sr., Bayshore: The setter had 23 assists and a crucial kill that kept her team alive in the second game.

Sami Stokes, Jr., Bayshore: The outside hitter (10 aces, nine kills) served six straight aces to close out the opening game.

Bayshore d. Merritt Island Chr.

25-11, 27-25, 25-11