Lake Worth, FL -- Palm Beach Volleyball fell to 2 top-ranked opponents in Hillsborough Community College and St. Petersburg College, respectfully.
On Friday night, the Panthers had their 1st weeknight home game of the season, and with a robust crowd, the energy was high. Hillsborough Community College came into the "Panther Den" with a record of 12-2, good enough for 5th in the conference and just outside the top-10 in the nation.
The Panthers carried the pre-game energy into the game, charging to a 16-9 lead. Trying to pull away in the 1st set proved to be difficult as Hillsborough came roaring back, cutting the lead to 17-15. The teams traded points until Hillsborough came back to tie the game at 22-22, the first time they had not trailed in the game. Hillsborough took the next point to take their first led; however, great ball movement, and a perfectly placed ball between two outstretched defenders earned the Panthers the 23rd point of the set. Unfortunately, Hillsborough's high-powered attack proved to be too much to overcome as the Panthers lost a heartbreaker, 23-25.
In the 2nd set, Palm Beach got out to a 6-2 lead thanks to some key blocking by Madison Barton and Martha Torres. With the score 9-7, excellent ball placement, again, led to confusion on the HCC side of the court, earning the Panthers a 3-point lead. The Panthers had a lead as large as 17-13 before HCC stormed back. Bella Magrino spiked the ball to earn the kill and the team's 18th point of the 2nd set. After a timeout, and the score tied 18-18, the Panthers got a break as the ball deflected wildly off an HCC player to take the lead 19-18. The teams then traded a few errors; long shots, service errors, etc; before a ball off a diving Madison Monahan put Hillsborough back on top 21-22. The Panthers would return the favor, after 2 spikes in a row tied the game at 23-23. After HCC hit the ball into the net, leading to game point, the ball was tipped off an HCC defender and out of bounds to give the Panthers the set, 25-23.
After dropping the 3rd set 22-25, the game was close until about midway through the 4th set. HCC went on 11-2 run to close out the 4th, earning them the victory 3 sets to 1.
On Saturday, the Panthers took on an extremely talented St. Petersburg team, which ranks 4th in the state, and is on the verge of the top-25 teams nationally. After falling behind 8-16, PBSC got their game going. Madison Monahan and Madison Barton each had plays that stood out, with the Freshman Barton providing a critical block to put the Panthers within 1 at 23-24. HCC would go on to take the set, 23-25. Speaking of Barton, she powered the Panthers to a 2nd set victory with great ball placement on the set-winning serve, providing some confusion on the receiving-end of the serve. PBSC would win the set 25-23 and tied the match 1-1.
The 3rd set was all HCC, as they seemed to do no wrong. They would win the game 8-25. The Panthers had a lot of nice moments in the final set, Nati Kordt and Baleigh Gillespie teamed up for a great block to start a 7-1 run for PBSC. But, the Hawk's attack was too much as Palm Beach could not close the gap, ultimately falling to the Hawks, 16-25.
The team will take a few days to rest before they start Southern Conference play on Tuesday at 6:00 pm at home.