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High school volleyball 2020: Glance at opening round matchups

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The high school volleyball playoffs begin this week, with matches on Wednesday and Thursday night. A look at first-round games. All games are 7 p.m. unless indicated. Class 1A matches are next week.

Wednesday’s matches

Region 1-7A

Nease (5-12) at Mandarin (10-9)

Sandalwood (8-10) at Bartram Trail (12-7)

Region glance: The Bears are the favorite to maneuver through the local cluster here and a pick to reach the regional final. Barring upsets, Bartram will likely see powerhouse Lyman in the regional final. The Greyhounds are 24-1 and ranked fourth nationally by MaxPreps. Jenna Otts (159 kills), Gracie Larson (56 blocks) and Annie Dill (528 assists) lead a very good Bears team. Mandarin’s Taylor Boyd (65 aces) was among the top servers on the First Coast, according to the Times-Union’s season-ending stats, and Ellie Jackson led the Mustangs in kills (166). Nicole Klucharich (137 kills, 138 digs) and Elysia Perkins (168 digs) lead Nease.

Region 1-6A

Fleming Island (14-7) at Tallahassee Leon (7-0)

Tallahassee Chiles (4-3) at Creekside (16-2)

Region glance: Tough opening match for the Golden Eagles as Leon is annually one of the state’s best. Fleming Island has four players with 112 kills or more, led by Sydney Rupert (122). Libero Jangelyz Ramirez anchors the back row with 326 digs. They were ranked all season in our Super 6. The Knights are the favorite among area teams here and a good pick for a state semifinal run. Jaden McBride ranked third in the area in total kills (240) and Izzy Collier provides the net presence (51 blocks).

Region 1-5A

Daytona Beach Seabreeze (5-10) at Ridgeview (13-9)

Orange Park (7-13) at Ponte Vedra (22-0)

Region glance: This will play out as a Sharks march to back-to-back state championships if things play out like they have. Ponte Vedra has been essentially untouchable for a year. Amy Burkhardt (174 kills), Rachel Johnson (148 kills) and Zeta Washington (138 kills) power one of the country’s best teams. Roxy Palii (158 kills) is the top attacker for the Raiders. Ridgeview has had a very good season and spent a week ranked in our Super 6. Elaina Reynolds (217 kills), Haley Robinson (69 blocks) and Ashlyn Halford (379 digs) lead the Panthers.

Thursday’s matches

Region 1-4A

Raines (3-11) at Yulee (15-5)

Baker County (12-7) at Bishop Kenny (18-8)

Region glance: The Crusaders are always a safe pick to advance. Why? They’ve yet to lose a first-round playoff game (24-0) and have failed to reach the third round just twice in their storied volleyball history. Allison Cavanaugh (222 kills) and Emilie Chinault (218 kills) were one of just three pairs of 200-kill teammates this season in the area. Yulee has a solid team, with Christina Jackson (269 kills) and Caroline Brackens (220 kills) leading the way. The Vikings are making their playoff debut following a fortunate district draw that allowed them to avoid Kenny until the district final. Blakely Mallory (120 kills) and Allyson Crossland (117 kills) pace Baker County.

Region 2-4A

Menendez (8-11) at Lake Highland Prep (11-4)

Region glance: Alex Conroy (194 digs, 127 kills) and Laney Goode (329 assists) are the leaders for the Falcons, although they run into a volleyball powerhouse in their opener.

Region 1-3A

Episcopal (9-3) at Pensacola Catholic (14-2), 8 p.m.

Florida State University School (9-5) at Providence (14-3), 6 p.m.

Region glance: Two solid area program here, with the Super 6-ranked Stallions the headliner. Gray Miller (163 kills) and Robin Repass (157 kills, 37 blocks) give Providence a strong net presence and Lexi Patania is 11 digs away from 300. Episcopal has a tough opener on the road in Pensacola. Kami Eppley (90 kills, 101 digs), Ava Freel (318 assists) and Knox Greene (162 digs) are the Eagles' leaders.

Region 1-2A

Eagle’s View (7-10) at St. John Paul II (10-7), 6 p.m.

Aucilla Christian (16-2) at Harvest Community (7-3), 6 p.m.

Meadowbrook Academy (8-8) at Christ’s Church (11-6)

St. Johns Country Day (15-1) at Ocala St. John Lutheran (14-5)

Region glance: A loaded local region, with Christ’s Church and St. Johns the threats here. The Eagles handed the Spartans their first loss of the season in the district final. Zoey Slack (146 kills), Nadia Mortensen (138 kills) and Haisley Smith (124 kills, 50 blocks) are tops at the net for Christ’s Church. St. Johns has a more difficult opener at St. John Lutheran, but it’s not unwinnable. Maddie Moody (145 kills) and Lauryn Mateo (119 kills) lead the attack, while Gracie Arnett (426 assists) was in the area top 10 in assists. Morgan Fletcher (106 kills) and Carlie Vining (248 digs) pace Harvest. Harper Cowen’s 201 assists were tops on Eagle’s View.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.