Story by Nick Rubino and Kyle Lander
The Gainesville Hurricanes (4-3) lost to the Santa Fe Raiders (11-2) in three straight sets in Thursday night’s thrilling match-up at the Purple Palace.
Passionate First Set
Coming off a loss earlier in the week to Forest High School, the Gainesville Hurricanes looked to rebound against the Santa Fe Raiders on Thursday night at home.
Santa Fe had other thoughts as they would jump out to an early 6-2 lead from impressive kills by Junior Jalyn Stout and Senior Rylie Tam. However, Gainesville’s hitters were not backing down from the competition. Helping Gainesville claw their way back to knot it up at 17-17. Additionally, the back row for the Hurricanes held their own defensively against the Santa Fe hitting unit.
With the fans encouraging their respective teams and the players feeding off the energy, emotions were rising in the game very quickly. After each play, fans and players alike celebrated emphatically showing just how important each point was. Both teams were locked in and traded blows late in the set with Santa Fe finding themselves leading 21-18.
To close out the set Santa Fe showed poise by going on an 8-3 run to fend off Gainesville. This would conclude the first set with a score of 25-20 in favor of the Raiders.
Raiders Ride Momentum Through Second Set
Santa Fe would gain early confidence following the first set win with an ace to start off the second. The Raiders would force an early timeout from the Hurricanes after beginning the set, up 4-1. Santa Fe would increase their lead to 9-4 by virtue of acrobatic plays made by their back row, which kept the momentum going. They would ride this to a 17-12 lead a little over halfway through the set before Gainesville would see their way back into the frame.
Gainesville fought all the way back into the picture with huge plays defensively and offensively. One huge play made in this stretch was by the Hurricane’s Senior Nicole Brandt (#2) and Sophomore Meme Davis (#1). Brandt went all out making a diving play to save the volley, which was finished off by a block from Davis.
Going through some footage from tonight game between GHS v SFHS. Great play all around from the GHS team. pic.twitter.com/8qfkGJ05GQ
— Kyle (@_KyleLander) September 17, 2021
Although the Raiders would take a timeout to try to halt the Hurricane’s momentum, it was not enough as Gainesville found themselves in a tie game 18-18. However, Gainesville could not keep up the energy to finish off Santa Fe, as they would let them go on an important run to the end the set. Santa Fe would end up winning this set 25-20 over the Hurricanes.
Nail-Biting Finish For the Third Set
The Gainesville Hurricanes started off strong in the third. A little into the set, Hurricane’s Freshman Gia McGrew (#13) and Junior Ta’Niya Walker (#12) combined for a block that electrified the team and their fans. This play would help guide them towards a 9-6 lead.
Another great play found in this game was from the front row of GHS. A huge double block that provided a spark for the Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/wboV8bNDxr
— Kyle (@_KyleLander) September 17, 2021
Gainesville controlled the first half of the third set as they would lead 16-12. But they left the door open for the Raiders to get back into the game. The Raiders would eventually be able to even it up at 18-18.
After back and forth play from each team, the game was coming down to the wire. Santa Fe pulled ahead slightly after a great one-hand set from Jalyn Stout to Rylie Tam for the kill, a connection that shined the entire night.
Gainesville showed resilience by responding with a kill of their own from Gia McGrew, once again. This would provide a spark for the Hurricanes who then went on a 4-1 run to move them one point away from the win.
Despite seeing victory on the horizon, Gainesville would lose this set in heartbreaking fashion after trading blows in crunch time. This third set concluded with a score of Santa Fe High School 27 – 25 Gainesville High School.
Despite being swept by the Raiders, the fight and passion shown all night from the Hurricanes made for three competitive sets. Gainesville Hurricane’s head coach Chancie Vice gave her thoughts on her team after the game. Stating what she saw from her team tonight and the many positives to take away from the game.