Nationally-ranked Blue Wave are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A
By: Mike Ridaught
On Tuesday night, the P.K. Yonge volleyball team clinched its second consecutive 20-win season.
While 20 wins in a season is impressive, the thing that has been the most amazing for the Blue Wave is the manner with which they have done it.
The No. 19 nationally-ranked Blue Wave (20-2) have swept all the local teams, and they have played a brutal schedule, which includes a 2-0 loss to the #1 team in the country – Mercy (KY) – along with several victories against the state’s best.
Tuesday’s victim was 2A state runner-up Foundation Academy. The Blue Wave have also defeated defending 7A state champion Oviedo, 6A champion Vanguard (Ocala), Bishop Moore (Orlando), which won 5A last year and is in 4A with P.K. Yonge this year, and defending 3A champion Westminster Christian.
“We put together the most difficult schedule that I think anyone in this area has ever played, back to my days with GHS and Coach B (former GHS coach Cindy Boulware),” said second-year coach Chad Davis.
Before Davis took over, P.K. Yonge finished 14-12 in 2012.
He came in and established the discipline, training and conditioning needed to contend for a state title.
Last year, in his first season, they finished 28-2. Although they lost in five sets to Lake Highland Prep in the regional final, Davis believes the loss will be good for his team in the long run.
“I don’t clarify last year as a disappointment,” he explained. “We were disappointed with the ending for sure. We were one set away from going to the final four. But to get those guys right there, I just believe, having done this for a long time, a team has to experience some heartbreak in order to then climb the mountain the second year.”
Over the summer, several members of this year’s team won the national championship in club ball, travelling to places like Atlanta, Denver and Minnesota, en route to a 75-7 record.
Now, they’re trying to bring home a state title, which would be the first for the Blue Wave since coach Laurie Obreza led them to the 2A state title against Tampa Berkeley Prep in 2002.
Courtney Chappell is the only senior on a team that is very balanced. In fact, it may be their strongest point.
Juniors Sammy Mueller, Kiki Sermons and Gabby O’Connell could all end up signing to play at the next level after next season, while junior outside hitter Jac’cara Walker, who leads the team with 250 kills, recently committed to Mississippi State.
“She’s the best player I’ve coached in 20 years,” said Davis.
Add it up, and it’s easy to see why this team could be on the verge of greatness.
“We’re having tremendous success and getting better every week and that’s what I like to see,” said Davis.
P.K. Yonge hosts Gainesville tonight, and they close the regular season with home games against Buchholz on Tuesday (Senior Night) and Oak Hall next Thursday.
P.K. Yonge volleyball was a guest on “The Prep Zone” this past Monday, Oct. 6. To listen to the show, please click here.