The Pirates were on the brink of a loss in the final set.
The Pirates girls volleyball team isn’t used to losing to Flagler Palm Coast.
The Pirates dominated the Bulldogs in four sets in their first matchup of the season on Aug. 30, but they found themselves in an uncomfortable, and unfamiliar, position in the final match of the season against their crosstown rival.
After the Pirates squeaked out a 25-21 win in the first set, the Bulldogs immediately struck back, taking the second set 28-26 and dominating the third set 25-19. The Pirates tied the match again with a 25-22 victory in Set 4. But early in the fifth set, the Pirates were down 6-1.
The girls on the court were frustrated, angry, bitter toward each other.
Then Pirates coach Julie Menendez called a timeout.
“This is a very emotional game for them,” she said. “But that’s not who they are. They’re a team that plays together, fights together.”
When they retook the court, the Pirates dug deep.
Matanzas scored 13-straight points and captured the final set 15-7 to take down the Bulldogs on FPC’s Senior Night on Thursday, Oct. 11, at FPC High School.
“We needed a moment to calm down,” said Pirates hitter Brianna Whitfield, who slammed down 13 kills. “We really wanted to pull this one out because it was the last chance for our seniors to win in such a huge rivalry.”
But despite the point-scoring of the Pirates’ front row, it was the Pirates’ backrow, comprised of senior Alyssia Paiz and junior exchange student Alice Mastropasqua, that fueled Matanzas in its fifth-set comeback.
While the Bulldogs tried desperately to slam down kills, it was Paiz and Mastropasqua who kept balls alive.
“We played as a team,” said Mastropasqua, who came to Matanzas from Milan, Italy, almost two months ago. “That was the difference.”