Cougars beat Cardinal Gibbons, winningest program in state history


The Cardinal Mooney volleyball team walked into the land of giants and ran away with a monumental win that gives the Cougars a chance to make history.

Cardinal Mooney got help from just about every player on the floor and the Cougars beat Cardinal Gibbons, the winningest high school volleyball program in the state, 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 25-23, in the Class 5A state semifinals to reach the state title game for the first time since 2000.

The Cougars will go after the first state volleyball championship in school history Thursday when they play Ocala Trinity Catholic at Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State University in Fort Myers.

“It was a tough battle. The kids played hard stayed together,” third-year coach Chard Sutton said. “They believed in themselves and pushed to a great win.”

Cardinal Gibbons entered the match with designs to add to their 22 state titles, but the Cougars, who improved to 25-7 would not be denied.

Alex Lopez helped lead the way with 38 assists, an ace and eight digs. Those assists set up plenty of kill opportunities and the Cougars stepped up and converted.

Kali Plattner delivered a dozen kills to go with 15 digs and a pair of aces. Sophia Hritz added 10 kills, 17 digs and two aces and Anna Klemeyer had eight kills and five blocks.

Skye Ekes contributed seven kills and five blocks and Dalton Judge added four more kills to go with five blocks, five digs and an ace

Madison Brown was credited with 26 digs and two aces. Sophia Hebda finished with 12 digs.

“I can’t say enough about the job they did,” Sutton said about going on the road against a storied team and getting a win that puts the Cougars in the state final.