JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Zeta Washington made her mark as a freshman and kept right on making it through her final season at Ponte Vedra.
Washington, now a three-time All-News4JAX player of the year, has a career that stands apart from any other in area volleyball history. While her final year didn’t end with a championship, it was the most impressive season of her decorated career. And the other seasons weren’t too bad either.
Washington led the Sharks to back-to-back state titles in 2019-20 and headlined a team that posted a 51-game winning streak, a number that is unmatched locally.
In an area largely known for years by the consistency of private school stalwarts, Bishop Kenny and Bolles, Ponte Vedra steamrolled its way into area volleyball royalty and muscled into the national conversation during Washington’s time there. While the 6-foot-2 middle blocker is bound for the University of Cincinnati next, her impact at Ponte Vedra is difficult to properly convey.
The Sharks with Washington dropped just one match in four seasonsto a local team (a 2-1 game against Fleming Island in 2019) and went 55-1 against area schools in that span. They had sweeps in 51 of those matches.
“The awards and the accomplishments are great, but really, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that if I didn’t have the girls around me, giving me perfect passes, [setter] Jessica [Shattles] giving me perfect sets every time I needed them,” she said. “It really isn’t possible without them. So, I owe everything to them.”
Washington was the area’s top player as a freshman as the Sharks romped to a 26-5 record and the final nine victories that season by sweep. That was a primer on what was to come.
The following season, Ponte Vedra went 27-0 and won 26 of those by sweep. Washington was slowed by injury that year but still played a significant role in Ponte Vedra’s perfect season.
That winning streak would eventually reach 51 matches before the Sharks lost to Miami Westminster Christian in a best-of-three tournament game. Last year, Ponte Vedra lost to Mater Academy in the state title game. This year, the Sharks lost to eventual state champ New Smyrna Beach in the regional round to end a quest for four consecutive championship game appearances. That didn’t diminish Washington’s body of work.
It was a masterpiece.
“Obviously, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. But every single game I played like it was my last. And I honestly think I had the most fun I’ve ever had in a PV season,” she said. “Every single game was fun. And going up against double or triple blocks and all these teams trying to stop me and it just really made it more of a challenge for me and I think I just grew overall as a player.”
Washington’s arrival on the volleyball scene and her instant accolades put a target on her jersey. That seldom mattered as she refined her game and got better by the season. Washington was consistent right down to the kill numbers. She had 313 this season, as well as in her freshman and junior years. What did change was the ferocity at which Washington finished with.
The visibility grew by the season and yet Washington still rained down offense. Facing double and triple blocks, a common sight against Washington, did little to slow her down. She had a 68% kill percentage and a 59% hitting percentage, robust numbers that were both career bests by a good margin.
Washington’s kill total as a senior came in 16 fewer sets than in 2019 and in 18 fewer sets than last year. The most impressive thing about Washington’s final season was that she put up those numbers against a schedule that is very likely the most difficult schedule ever played by an area program. The Sharks played 22 games and only three were against teams who didn’t make the playoffs. Two came in the district tournament.
Of Ponte Vedra’s seven losses, six came to eventual state champions. One of those came to volleyball dynasty and perennial national No. 1 San Diego Cathedral Catholic (42-0) in the GEICO Invitational, a match that was televised on ESPN. Washington had 15 kills in that match and hit 54%.
Sure, her final season didn’t end with a storybook state championship but the journey was well worth it.
“Being able to play such high-level competition … I had 6-[foot]-3, 6-[foot]-4 girls blocking me and I would definitely say it was difficult but it really was a fun challenge and I’m glad that it turned out this way,” she said.
Pos., Player, School, Class
OH Grace Albaugh, Bolles, Sr.
A second-team All-News4JAX selection last season, Albaugh turned in the best attacking season of her career (318 kills). Also posted career-best 57 service aces and 84 digs. Also had 19 blocks. Georgetown University commit. Third-team selection on the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America team. Rated as the No. 98 overall player in the Class of 2023 by Prep Dig.
OH Allison Cavanaugh, Bishop Kenny, Sr.
Four-time All-News4JAX selection. Georgia signee. Had 325 kills and 43 blocks. A dominant career. Finished her time at Kenny with 1,240 kills and a state title as a sophomore. Rated as the No. 135 overall player in the Class of 2023 by Prep Dig.
OH Amaria King, Trinity Christian, So.
A veteran on the high school court, King logged playing time in sixth grade and has had at least 200 kills every year since. Two-time All-News4JAX selection. Had 407 kills and 35 blocks. Added 205 digs and 37 service aces. Has 1,356 career kills.
OH/RS Jenna Otts, Bartram Trail, Sr.
The best season of her stellar career. Had career highs in kills (428), kill percentage (47.1), blocks (23) and digs (179). Added 58 service aces. Has committed to Gardner Webb University.
OH/MB Connor Rahn, Middleburg, Sr.
Led Broncos at thet net with 371 kills and on defense with 281 digs. Had 39 blocks and was third on the team with 38 service aces.
MB Haley Robinson, Ridgeview, Jr.
Another superb season for Robinson. She had 305 kills and 132 blocks to stay a force at the net. Added 109 digs and 31 aces as she led an 18-12 Ridgeview to the third round of the state playoffs.
S Jessica Shattles, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
Three-time All-News4JAX selection. Smooth running the offense. Had 613 assists. Had 37 service aces. Led team with 144 digs. Was on team that lost just once to a local program in four years. Committed to New Hampshire.
MB/RS Zeta Washington, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
Three-time All-News4JAX player of the year. Had 313 kills and a staggering 67.6 kill percentage. Led team at the service stripe (54 aces) and second with 52 blocks. Won two state championships in her career and played for another. Had 1,088 career kills and 50.4% kill percentage in her four seasons. Has signed with Cincinnati. Rated as the No. 31 overall player in the Class of 2023 by Prep Dig.
Pos., Player, School, Class
L/DS Kasey Casiple, Ridgeview, Sr.
Led team with 616 digs, highest total of her career. Finished with 1,372 digs in her three-year career.
OH/RS Rauly Eason, Fleming Island, Jr.
Led team with 240 kills and 73 blocks. A factor at the service stripe (25 aces). Also had 46 assists.
L/S Sydney Lewis, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Has been on three straight All-News4JAX teams. Had career-highs in assists (453), blocks (19), aces (90) and kills (80).
RS/MB Paola S. Aviles Morales, Mandarin, Jr.
Led Mustangs at the net (284 kills, 42% kill percentage). Also had 54 blocks for 19-7 Mandarin.
S/OH Tyler Patterson, Creekside, Sr.
Versatile player led team in service aces (36) and assists (656). Had 20 blocks. Second with 239 digs.
MB Robinson Repass, Providence, Sr.
Had career-best 287 kills. Kill percentage was 47%. Added 53 blocks and 42 service aces.
MH/RS Olivia Ryno, Bishop Kenny, So.
Had 186 kills and had a 45% kill percentage. Strong at the net (92 blocks) for 19-10 Crusaders.
L/DS/OH Taylor Teaman, Trinity Christian, Jr.
Led the Conquerors at the service stripe (44 aces) and digs (358). Added 111 assists and was the team’s top player in the serve-receive game.
Pos., Player, School, Class
RS Ashlyn Anderson, St. Johns CD, Jr.
S Gracie Arnett, Bolles, Jr.
DS/S/L DD Banton, St. Augustine, So.
DS/L Andi Barbour, Menendez, Sr.
OH Zoey Bell, Sandalwood, Sr.
OH Bella Bergeron, Bolles, Jr.
L/DS Grace Castellani, Fernandina Beach, Sr.
OH Makenna Clark, Ridgeview, Jr.
S Emily Collings, Providence, Jr.
S Peyton Cooper, Harvest Community, So.
L Jurney Crim, Union County, Jr.
OH Jaycee Davis, Union County, Sr.
OH Haley Dennis, Hilliard, So.
OH Kamryn Eatmon, Keystone Heights, Sr.
OH/RS Nadia Ewton, Fletcher, Jr.
S Brooke Forkum, Middleburg, So.
S Bella Gomez, St. Johns Country Day, So.
OH DeMyah Jackson, Oakleaf, Jr.
L Kate Jacobs, St. Johns CD, Jr.
OH Sarahbelle Jameson, Creekside, So.
OH Adriana Jeanpierre, Beachside, Fr.
OH Ella Johns, Fernandina Beach, Sr.
DS/OH Penelope Kavalieros, Bolles, So.
S Faith Kennedy, Bishop Snyder, So.
S Cadie Gillette, Fernandina Beach, Sr.
S Madison Glenn, Columbia, Sr.
OH Allison Green, Creekside, Sr.
S Kori Jennings, Keystone Heights, Sr.
S Sydney Kambach, Christ’s Church, Jr.
MB/S Sophia Kardatzke, University Christian, Jr.
L/DS Morgan Langley, Bartram Trail, Sr.
OH Laney Lipovetsky, Beachside, Jr.
L/OH/DS Aubri Martin, Clay, Jr.
MB Taylor Marts, Harvest Community, Fr.
OH Abby Maynor, Harvest Community, Sr.
DS/RS/L Emma Milton, Bishop Kenny, Sr.
OH Nadia Mortensen, Christ’s Church, Jr.
OH Kiali Olivier, Menendez, Jr.
MB Ryann Prince, Sandalwood, Sr.
OH/DS Ava-Grace Redick, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
OH Ryanne Robinson, Orange Park, So.
S/L Ariel Ross, Trinity Christian, So.
OH/DS/RS Samantha Rupert, Fleming Island, Jr.
L Traci Schrock, Fletcher, Sr.
L/DS Sarah Seabrooke, Bishop Kenny, Sr.
L Elle Steiger, Episcopal, So.
OH Morgan Stephens, Atlantic Coast, Sr.
OH Claudia Stockard, Bishop Kenny, Jr.
MB Chelsea Sutton, Ponte Vedra, Jr.
OH Kaitlyn Touzet, St. Augustine, Sr.
L/DS Viviana Vasquez, Creekside, Sr.
MB Brynn White, St. Johns Country Day, So.
S Hazel Williams, Fleming Island, Fr.
MB Sinei Wood, Columbia, Fr.