OKEECHOBEE– The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahmans volleyball team swept the Sebastian River Lady Sharks at their first home game in Okeechobee on Sept. 10.
Okeechobee won the first set 25-16, second set 25-22, and third set 25-21.
The win brings the Lady Brahman’s record to 1-1 to start their 2020 season. On Sept. 8 Okeechobee lost to South Fork on the road in the season opener.
The 2020 Lady Brahman varsity squad has a lot of returning faces this year. Representing Okeechobee on the court this season are Ashley Phares, Anja Koivunen, Callie Rucks, Elle Thomas, Izzy Veloz, Jacalyn Pearce, Jessie Lashley, Joy Whipple, Kiersten Kennedy, Mattie Garcia, Morgan Tucker, Penelope Vaneman, Piper Hans and Sydney Matthews.
As expected, with the adjustments due to COVID-19, things looked a little different in the OHS gymnasium this year. Face masks were required for spectators, the pregame handshake between teams is now a pregame wave, and teams no longer switch sides between sets. Referees now carry a digital whistle which they activate with a push of a button.
Okeechobee jumped out to a 10-4 lead early in the first set thanks to some great serves from senior Mattie Garcia. Sophomore Jacalyn Pearce had some diving saves in the first set to help preserve the lead for the Lady Brahmans. Pearce kept the home team alive multiple times throughout the match, especially in the second and third sets which were more competitive.
Sebastian River took a 9-3 lead to start the second set, in part due to costly errors by Okeechobee. Momentum swung back Okeechobee’s direction mid-way through the set with a rally sparked by Pearce serving the ball.
The third set began much like the first, with Okeechobee putting up points on the Lady Sharks early. Sebastian River senior Teagan Abraham acted as a leader on the court for the Lady Sharks, encouraging her teammates to stay focused and to keep putting pressure on the Lady Brahmans.
After leading 17-12 at one point in the third set, Okeechobee saw their lead shrink to just 23-20 after a Sebastian River rally.
But after a time-out by Lady Brahmans coach Taylor Padrick, the Okeechobee team was able to refocus and put the game away.