With a constant roar in the gym from the first serve, the Destin Marlins and Baker Gators did battle on the volleyball court with the Gators edging out Destin 2-1 in the Okaloosa County Middle School Championship Wednesday afternoon in Destin.
“It really was a great game,” said Destin Coach Katie Davies. “I just wish it wasn’t for the championship and I wish it had gone our way.
“But it’s OK, the girls fought hard and they came back in that second game and showed what they were made of,"she added. "Then in that third game it was a race to 15 and we just came up a little bit short.”
Earlier in the season, Destin lost to Baker on their home court, then when they came to Destin a couple of weeks later, Destin won.
On Wednesday, Destin lost the first set 25-17, but then rallied back to win the second set 25-22. In the final set, which plays to 15, Baker got their first for a 15-12 final.
In the first set, Destin took an early 3-0 lead off the serves of Amrah DeSimone. Destin lost the ball on a dig and Baker took over and put up five straight with Lily Adams at the service line. The serve went side out a few times before Baker made another little run with Jolee Sloan serving them up and Destin failing to dig it out for a 15-7 lead.
Destin finally broke the serve with Blakely York getting a shot for the Marlins. As soon as Destin got the advantage, they lost it.
Baker made one last run on the Marlins with Kailyn Ellis serving up four straight for a 24-13 lead.
Destin got the ball back and Ava Smith put in three for no returns to close it down to 24-17. The Marlins finally missed on a volley and Baker took the set 25-17.
In set two, the scoring went back and forth with Baker taking a 14-9 lead with Adams picking up six points at the service line. Destin rallied back with DeSimone scoring two before giving the advantage back to the Gators.
With Baker up 16-12, the Marlins went to work and battled back with Kyla Buehner serving up four for a 17-16 lead. Baker tipped one in on Destin to tie the game, but then missed on their serve giving a point and the ball back to Destin.
Smith served up two for a 20-17 advantage.
The final few points went back and forth with Destin coming out on top 25-22.
In the last set to 15, it was neck and neck from the get go. Baker stepped out to a 12-6 lead, but Destin battled back. With Jessica Pierce at the service line, she knocked in a couple of aces then DeSimone hammered one in for a point. Before it was said and done, Destin tied the game up at 12-12. The Marlins finally turned the ball over after a long volley. With Baker up 13-12, Paris Kolmetz served up a point and then Destin missed on a dig with the Gators getting the win 15-12.
“It was a great season,” Davies said. “I love those girls … bummed it didn’t turn out in our favor.”