FORT WALTON BEACH — Kathy Combest’s crew had defending District 2-6A champion Mosley on the ropes.
In search of its first-ever trip to the 6A playoffs, third-seeded Crestview was one point away from taking a 2-0 set lead over the second-ranked Dolphins in the first of Tuesday’s semifinals of the District 2-6A tournament.
But ahead 24-23 after a 25-21 win in the opener, they just couldn’t deliver the early knockout punch.
Mosley fought off a set point and never looked back, delivering a 21-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-12 win to set up Thursday night’s championship against Niceville, which swept Fort Walton Beach in the nightcap.
Jackie Hanners dished out a team-high 16 assists and Jasmine Middelton delivered a team-best 13 kills for the Bulldogs (15-10), who Combest said have the pieces in play to realize their potential.
“This is only my second year and these girls have never had the consistency,” said Combest, who pointed out that other teams in the district have had much less turnover in the coaching department. “And that’s going to come. We had a JV season where our freshman went 23-2 and 25-0 was our JV’s record. We’re thinking (the success) is coming.”
Kerrie York, who had a dominant first set with six kills, added nine kills, Brittany Pase added seven kills and Molly Kitchen chipped in 11 assists for the Bulldogs, who just couldn’t contain the hard-hitting trio of Rachel Skibba, Hayden McGee and Nicolle Valle.
Playing off the pinpoint sets of Heidi Nix and Makayla Lewis, who had 21 and 20 assists respectively, Skibba delivered a match-best 23 kills, McGee added 12 and Valle chipped in seven.
In terms of delivering the biggest kill of the match, Skibba and Kenley Adams looked to be the top candidates.
After watching Crestview erase a 17-19, first-set deficit with seven unanswered points, the duo delivered in the clutch for the Dolphins.
Skibba, with her team down 24-23 in the second set, saved set point with a kill up the middle and then gave the Dolphins their second set point three points later, setting up a kill from Adams up the left side that shifted the momentum of the match.
From there, the Dolphins never looked back.
Trailing 18-17 in the third set, McGee and Skibba each delivered a pair of kills and a Nix closed out a 8-2 run with a kill to cap off a 25-20 win.
Not even 15 minutes later the Dolphins put the finishing touches on a 25-12 win to move into the finals.