Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Change in Attitude Leads Sharks to Final; Looser Play Propels Ponte Vedra into Match against Powerhouse

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Change in Attitude Leads Sharks to Final; Looser Play Propels Ponte Vedra into Match against Powerhouse

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Barney

One giant down, one mountain left for the Ponte Vedra volleyball team.

The Sharks hadn't been this far in a season before and didn't feel like they were headed for history this year either. But a few things lined up and here they are, playing for the Class 6A state championship on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. against nationally ranked Orlando Bishop Moore at Ocala's West Port High School.

Ponte Vedra (21-9) is a heavy underdog against the Hornets (26-1), a dynasty-in-the-making program, but long odds aren't of concern. Just getting here was an achievement for the Sharks. They've finally learned to have fun, play loose and enjoy the ride.

"I think the having fun part helped us out," said hitter Mackenzie Morris, who leads the Sharks with 229 kills. "It's a game of mistakes and you can't be too worried about it. We've learned to let loose and have fun with the game. I think we were switching too much [during the season], if we didn't pass perfect or hit perfect, we just got too tense, we were scared to make mistakes. We've learned to laugh it off. If we make a mistake, shake it off."

That's something that wasn't happening for most of the season. From mid-September to the middle of October, Ponte Vedra hit the wall. They played too tight and struggled to find their ideal rotation. Coach Robin Mignerey said that something was just off about the Sharks and it showed on the court and on the schedule. The Sharks went 7-8 in that span, with four losses by sweep.

Mignerey said that the low-point was a beating at the hands of Bartram Trail, the clincher in that match a 25-13 blowout.

"After that game, I said 'I think we've just hit rock bottom. Only way to go is up from here,'" Mignerey said. "A lot of them were down and blue, it was almost like even though we were going to keep on pushing, it was like working coming in to practice. …

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