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Gulf Coast earns 1st bid to nationals


By Dustin Kent

Gulf Coast knocked off St. Johns River State on Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Sun-Lakes Conference/District P Tournament in Avon Park.

With the win, the Lady Commodores (19-6) earned their first trip to a national tournament in program history.

Gulf Coast will next compete in the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship on Nov. 21-23 at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W. V.

“It means a lot,” second year Gulf Coast head coach Scott Allen said. “It’s the school’s first region championship and the first time we’ve been able to go to the national championship. We’re really excited about it.

“It was the goal from the beginning of the season to win that conference championship and get a bid to nationals. The girls have been busting their butt all year long to get there.”

The Lady Commodores earned their spot in Sunday’s title game with a four-set victory over South Florida State on Saturday.

On Sunday, they played what Allen referred to as “maybe the best volleyball we’ve played all year.”

“As a coach, that’s a good thing,” Allen said. “We’ve been improving as the season goes along. You want to be peaking at the right time and we were able to make that happen.”

Gulf Coast will have to wait a little while to get back on the court, though Allen said that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Lady Commodores can spend that time getting healthy and continuing to get better.

When the Lady Commodores finally do get to Charleston, Allen said he’s confident they will more than hold their own.

“The thing we’ve been talking about is once we get our foot in the door and make it to the tournament, we’ve got a shot,” he said. “We really feel like we can beat any team in the country.

“The girls have been talking all week about how if we’re able to win this conference championship and get that bid, they feel like they can compete with any of those teams and they’re looking forward to showing the rest of the country what we can do.”

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