LAKE PLACID — The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahman varsity volleyball team served up its first win of the 2019 season on Tuesday.
Okeechobee traveled to Lake Placid to take on the Lady Dragons in the season opener on Aug. 20.
The Lady Brahmans dropped the first set 18-25, but followed that up by winning the next three 25-14, 25-19 and finally 25-15. It was an impressive performance against a Lake Placid team that went 20-8 and advanced to the regional semifinal last year.
Okeechobee is coming off a season where they went 13-12 and advanced to the district semifinal where they lost to rival Jensen Beach.
Jensen Beach has been a thorn in Okeechobee’s side for some time now. Head coach Taylor Padrick acknowledged that fact ahead of the district semifinal match in 2018.
“Jensen has always been a mental block for us because we can never get past them,” explained Padrick. “At the beginning of this season, we were able to take one set off of them, which we haven’t been able to do in years. So that gave them the mindset that they do this if they show up. But you have to show up.”
Okeechobee had defeated Jensen in one of its sets during the regular season match last year and was able to replicate that win in the district semifinal. But Jensen was still able to come away with the 3-1 victory.
Still, with the infusion of young talented freshmen to the program had last year, the Lady Brahmans weren’t an easy out for Jensen like they have been in the past. In the first set, Okeechobee battled in a close back-and-forth game before Jensen was able to win 26-24. In the second set the Lady Brahmans showed some resiliency and came back to win 27-25. With the match tied 1-1, Okeechobee was looking at finally being able to take down Jensen Beach after years of not being able to make so much as a scratch. But costly mistakes by Okeechobee ended up giving Jensen the win in the third and fourth sets.
Many of those young freshmen are back on the varsity squad this year as sophomores. The Lady Brahmans also have previous Big Lake Athlete of the Week winners sophomore Joy Whipple and senior Ashley Snyder back for their 2019 run.
Filling out the varsity roster this year is Ashley Phares, Anja Koivunen, Ashley Snyder, Briana Brockman, Callie Rucks, Elle Thomas, Jessie Lashley, Joy Whipple, Karey Gopher, Kiersten Kennedy, Mallorie Thomas, Mattie Garcia, Morgan Tucker and Piper Hans.
The Lady Brahmans also held its annual car wash fundraiser in the parking lot of Pritchards and Associates on Aug. 17 and the Okeechobee community was able to help the team reach the highest donation total they’ve ever had.
Next, Okeechobee will host the first home game of the season when the Port St. Lucie Lady Jaguars come to town on Aug. 27.
The Lady Brahmans won the last match between these two teams last year, shutting out the Lady Jaguars 3-0. Although the individual sets were closer than that final score lets on. Okeechobee won the first set 25-23, second set 25-21 and dominated the third set 25-14.
Whipple led in kills in that game with nine, followed by Koivunen with eight. Koivenen also tied for the most aces against Port St. Lucie with Thomas with each netting four.
Okeechobee hosts Port St. Lucie at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 27 in the Okeechobee High School gym.