SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: Gators have the stuff of champions

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:08 PM.

Watching the Chipley volleyball team warm up Saturday, I had my doubts that Baker could beat the Tigers in the Region 1-1A finals and advance to the state final four in Kissimmee for a second straight year.

Chipley looked bigger and more athletic. And the gym’s echo from the Tigers hitting the ball as they practiced their kill only strengthened my doubts.

When Chipley won the second and third sets to take a 2-1 lead in the match, I started thinking of how I would approach a season-ending story about the Gators coming up one win short of a return to Kissimmee. But I should have never doubted the Baker players’ heart and determination.

As is often the case in most sports, the Gator volleyball team doesn’t have the biggest or most athletic players. There are good athletes on the team, but the Gators were smaller than many teams they faced this year.

What the volleyball team has is a rare sense of confidence in the concept of team, trust in each other and the knowledge that you don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest to win. What the team lacks in size and sheer athletic talent it more than makes up for in volleyball smarts and an unwavering will to win.

I should have known that, as I have seen so many times before that just because the Gators were down against Chipley, they were far from out.

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