Volleyball team wins regionals


Carlos M. Garcia

Serving the ball, junior Jennifer Rayburn defeated Venice with the rest of the girls varsity volleyball team to claim the title of regional champions. They will compete against Doral Academy Nov. 13 in state semis.

Hyatt Criser, Sports Editor

On Thursday, Nov. 6, PHS Varsity Girls Volleyball defeated Venice to become Regional Champions. The game took place in Venice, however, the Gold Rush and the Panther Nation followed to witness their team’s victory.

“On Saturday, we were super excited to play our game and play for each other,” Senior Lilly Frierson said. “Venice has always had an amazing program, so playing them is really exciting; we always know the match is going to be intense. Playing in the Regional finals is an incredible opportunity, and I think we were all eager to continue to perform at a high level and win the next step to states.

“We did some specific drills in practice based on Venice’s offense, but we mostly focused on the mental aspect of the game. Going into the post-season, every team we play has a lot of talent; the better team (physically) isn’t guaranteed to win, which we proved to ourselves in the district final against Steinbrenner. We learned a difficult lesson but it showed us how important the mental aspects of the game are, and so we worked hard to sharpen our focus and intensity moving forward.”

The Panther’s focus and preparation paid off as they won three sets to zero. A clean sweep does not mean the game was one-sided, yet it demonstrates the Panther’s urgency to triumphantly complete each set.

“The dynamic of our team is insane,” Junior Jennifer Rayburn said. “I have never been on a team where I have loved the girls this much. I would consider this my second family and I am so thankful for everyone on this team. We all are there for each other and no one is ever left out. I think each of us is physically prepared for our upcoming game this Saturday.”

The next step for the Panthers is state-semis, which they have the privilege of hosting on their home court. They will compete against Doral Academy on Saturday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. for a spot in the state final game.

“The biggest factor on Saturday will be a passion for sure,” Frierson said. “We have to bring that out of ourselves and each other to win. Everyone has to show up not just with volleyball skills, but with intensity, energy, and a sense of urgency to carry us into the state final. We’ll definitely be putting in work this week in the gym, but we’re also certain to be focusing heavily on some team discussions about the effort we are going to have to bring this weekend.

“Being regional champs feels amazing!! But we’re not done yet. We know that we can get a ring this season, and it’s going to come down to our hearts in the next two weeks. Winning regionals feels great, but we’ve got huge goals this season we’ve yet to accomplish. I’m extremely proud, but we aren’t satisfied with regionals. We want to win states too!”