Posted: 8:26 am Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Boys volleyball: Wellington, Boca Raton advance to state quarterfinals 

By Jodie Wagner

Wellington and Boca Raton are among eight teams set to play Friday in boys volleyball state quarterfinal matches at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.

Keegan Sullivan blocks a shot during a Wellington boys volleyball practice earlier this season. The unbeaten Wolverines play St. Thomas Aquinas Friday night in a state quarterfinal match. (Photo by Allen Eyestone)

The Bobcats (19-7), won a nail-biter in Tuesday’s first-round, beating Coral Springs-Taravella 25-22, 25-18, 18-25, 21-25, 15-9 to advance to Friday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal match against North Miami-Mourning (18-6).

Boca Raton jumped out to a 2-0 lead and withstood a Trojans rally in the middle sets to earn the win.

“My guys went out in the fifth set fired up and proved that they deserve to be in the state tournament,” Bobcats coach Tommy Tyson said. “Winning the fifth set shows what we can do and showed us what we need to work on for states.”

Mourning will be a big test for Boca Raton, Tyson added.

“They have a couple of big guys who can attack the ball really well,” he said. “They are well-coached and are going to be a tough team to beat. It’s tough going to states because of the pressure, but my key players have experience from going to states two years ago.”

Boca Raton lost in four sets to Miami-Sunset in the 2012 state quarterfinals.

Unbeaten Wellington (28-0) will play Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas for the second time this season in its 9 p.m. quarterfinal match.

The Wolverines, who have advanced to the state quarterfinals three times but have not won a state title, beat the Raiders in two sets earlier this season in tournament competition

Longtime coach Brian Bausch said his team will be ready for St. Thomas Aquinas (21-3), which beat Southwest Ranches-Archbishop McCarthy in three sets Tuesday. Wellington swept rival Royal Palm Beach in its first-round match.

“It’s going to be a hard-fought match,” Bausch said of playing the Raiders. “They have great outsides and a phenomenal setter.”

The Wolverines’ success on Friday will ride on a combination of factors, Bausch said, among them a strong service game, good serve-receive and tight defense.

“All of those things come into another,” Bausch said.

This weekend’s state tournament is a culmination of four years of hard work by the team’s seniors, Bausch added.

“They’ve come a long way,” he said. “I have four kids who began as freshmen and they were starting on our varsity team. They weren’t very good because they were freshmen. Now they’re seeing the fruit of their labor. They’ve worked really hard and they’ve earned it.”