West Orange volleyball beats Apopka to win first district championship since 1977
| 9:17 p.m. October 22, 2014
WINTER GARDEN — The District 8A-3 Championship match didn’t start quite how the West Orange Warriors would have liked.
After locking up their first playoff berth in 14 years a day earlier by sweeping the Olympia Titans, the Warriors took an early punch to the mouth from the Apopka Blue Darters on Wednesday, with Apopka dominating the first set for a 25-9 victory.
That, though, is when the team’s seniors — girls who have been with the program for all four years of the volleyball renaissance on campus — took over and encouraged their teammates to have short memories.
“We basically just said ‘that’s a warmup game — just shake it off,’” libero CJ O’Brien said. “We just said we’ve worked too hard to lose that badly. I think it gave us motivation to do better in the next set.”
West Orange did shake it off, winning the next two sets and eventually edging Apopka in the deciding fifth set, 15-11, for a 3-2 victory (9-25, 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 15-11) and the district championship.
The Warriors (20-5) have been to the state playoffs three times before but this is the first district title since 1977.
Afterward, Usie expressed his pleasure with the way his team battled back after a rough beginning.
“Our girls just know how to fight … I give a lot of credit to them for losing the first game and winning the next two,” Usie said. “There’s just a light of fight in them — you can’t teach that.”
It may have been senior leadership helped this year’s team get over the hump and bring home a district title, but it was certainly aided by one very talented freshman. Makala Heidelberg had 13 kills, 16 digs and 1.5 blocks in the championship match to lead the way.
Jayden Davila-McClary had 25 assists, nine kills, nine digs and three aces, while O’Brien had 17 digs on the night.
West Orange will host its first playoff game in since 2000 on Tuesday, Oct. 28, against the runner-up from District 8A-4 Final between Boone and Dr. Phillips.
The Warriors have never won a playoff game, but Usie is optimistic that winning a closely contested match in the district final will give his girls some momentum going forward.
“I think winning, you know, it will give us a good chance to go into the next game with confidence,” Usie said. “We struggled toward the end of the season a little but we gathered it together and kept pushing.”