Destin Marlins fall to Ruckel on the court

Tina Harbuck | 315-4466 | @DestinLogTina |

Before a standing room only gym the Destin Marlins didn’t give up without a fight, but in the end the Ruckel Rams prevailed for a 25-21, 25-20 win in the Okaloosa County Middle School Volleyball Championship Wednesday night in Niceville.

“That was so much fun,” said Destin Coach Kersten Bowman.

“They gave it all they had in the first game. And if wasn’t for a few missed serves, the outcome might have been different.

“But I give Ruckel all the credit they are due. They are a great team and they deserve to be undefeated. They did a great job,” Bowman said.

From the first serve to the last point scored, there was a constant roar in the packed gym.

In the first game, Destin managed to tie the game a couple of times but could never get the lead. Ruckel pulled away on serves from Morgan Childress for a 5-2 start. The Rams hit the ball long and Destin took over with Taylor Flint picking up a point on an ace. Ruckel scored two, and then Destin’s Arleigh Foster lowered the boom on a shot to give Destin the ball. Sophie Berry went to the line and served up two points to tie the game at 7-7, but then went long on a serve to give Ruckel the advantage.

The Marlins closed it down to within one point on a placed shot by Bailey Phillips followed by a kill from Ashby Deep for a 14-13 game.

Ruckel then pecked away until they pulled away 23-17.

Destin made one late run with Carsyn Tillman at the service line for an ace and a tip over from Phillips. Tillman went wide on a serve, and then Phillips tipped one in for a 24-21 game.

Ruckel won the last point on a missed dig by Destin.

In game two, the Marlins took the early lead. Destin’s Braden Runnels blocked a shot and a second later got help from Deep for a combined block at the net to go up 4-2.

Ruckel tied up the game at 5-5 with Emily Osborne at the service line. Anna Marie Knowles hammered one in for Destin for a side out, but Ruckel tied it up again at 6-6.

At that point the Rams put together a little run with Isabella Sand serving up three points with a little help from Briella Kohler who lowered the boom on one to go up 9-6.

Ruckel made another run about midway through with Childress at the line. Osborne blocked a Marlin return for a point and Kohler drilled one back for a 19-11 advantage.

Not giving up, Destin rallied with Flint at the line for four points. After giving up a point, the Marlins picked up three more with Tillman and Foster combining for a block and Tillman tipping one in for a 20-18 game. Destin picked up two more points on shots from Knowles, before Ruckel finished it out with Kohler on the line.

“In the second game, we just kind of gave up, our attitude changed,” Bowman said.

“But then they turned it around and decided to leave it all on the court … and they did.”