BERKELEY CRUISES TO 3A-11 TITLE
TAMPAWinning district championships has become almost commonplace for Berkeley Prep's girls volleyball team. And so it was again Thursday night in the Class 3A-District 11 finals.
Playing on its home court, the top-seeded Buccaneers used the power of Lindsay Young and the leadership of Christina Theofilos to dispatch No. 3 seed Clearwater Central Catholic in straight sets, 25-10, 25-18, 25-19.
The district championship, Berkeley Prep's 15th consecutive, sends the Buccaneers (24-2) into Wednesday's home regional quarterfinal against the District 12 runner-up. "I've been saying all year that this team has exceeded my expectations," Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said. "I told them, 'We don't have to wait until next year. This can be our year.'"
Young led the Buccaneers with 16 kills, while Theofilos had 24 sets to lead Berkeley Prep on a pair of crucial runs to win the first two sets.
CANTERBURY TAKES 1A-DISTRICT 9 TITLE
LAND O' LAKES Behind another stellar serving performance, and 21 assists from senior setter Maccy Hall, top-seeded Canterbury (17-8) took the Class 1A-District 9 volleyball title 25-21, 25-17, 25-13 against surprising runner-up Lakeside Christian at the Academy at the Lakes gymnasium.
The Crusaders, who finished district play unbeaten this season, out-aced the Lions (10-11) 22-3, including a team-high nine from sophomore Sarah Fleming. Freshman Mansie Hough had eight aces to go with a team-high nine kills.
"We're a really good serving team. Some people don't believe our stats that are put in the paper, but you saw it tonight," Crusaders coach John Milkovich said.
Canterbury got out to large leads in the first two sets of the all-Pinellas County final, only to have Lakeside Christian rally on the strength of good defense and a strong block. Sophomore Danielle Mostert had four solo blocks on the night.
FERNANDEZ LEADS BAYSHORE TO WIN
TAMPA During matches like these, it's easy to see why Gabby Fernandez is hearing from big-time college programs.
The senior outside hitter put Bayshore Christian on her powerful shoulders and carried it to its 12th straight district championship with a 25-13, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19 win against Cambridge Christian in the Class 1A-District 10 final.
"She did great and came through when we really needed her," Faith Warriors coach Melanie Humenansky said.
Fernandez, who is getting attention from Florida and Indiana for college, had six kills and added a service ace in the first set, and added five kills in the second.
The Lancers extended the match by taking the third set as junior middle hitter Melissa Olsson led a late rally to give Cambridge the set.
Bayshore took a quick lead in the fourth, though, and was able to withhold Cambridge to secure home court for the region quarterfinals next week.
TAMPA PREP WINS 2A-9 CROWN
TAMPA Tampa Prep took an early advantage, then staved off an aggressive young Indian Rocks Christian team as the Terrapins (12-13) won the Class 2A-District 9 title, defeating the Golden Eagles (20-7) 25-14, 30-28, 25-21. Terrapins coach Mike Flynn pointed to the strong play of his seniors as the reason for the team's victory.
Senior defensive specialist Anna Dalence had 10 digs in the match. "Anna Dalence came up with some big momentum-changing digs," Flynn said. "It was right at the right time when [Indian Rocks] were expecting a big kill and she was right there where we needed her."
Senior middle hitter Dana Malinowski finished the match with 10 digs, six kills, three solo blocks and three assisted blocks.
Tampa Prep outside hitter Alena Ransom had 20 kills, while Caroline Dillabough had 36 assists and Ericka McGriff added four aces, eight kills, seven digs and two blocks.
HUDSON STUNS NATURE COAST
WESLEY CHAPEL On Sept. 10, Nature Coast blanked Hudson 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-19). On Sept. 25, the battle between the two Class 4A-District 8 rivals was closer but the Sharks prevailed 3-2 (22-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-22, 15-11).
So when No. 1-seeded Nature Coast met No. 2-seed Hudson on Thursday for the district championship, Nature Coast was looked at like the favorite - to everybody but Hudson.
The Cobras (20-7) got nine kills each from Cara Carley and Hallie Bislick to defeat the Sharks, 25-18, 25-23, 25-22. Hudson will host the District 7 runner-up Groveland South Lake on Tuesday. Nature Coast (24-3) will travel to District 7 champion Orlando Bishop Moore. Bishop Moore defeated South Lake 25-12, 25-16, 25-12.
"We saw some holes in that second match," said Hudson coach Linda McQuade. "We worked on them and it paid off."
In all three games, Nature Coast jumped out to early leads but the Cobras came back. In Game 1, the Sharks scored the first three points of the match but Lisa Kerns fired eight consecutive winning serves to put Hudson up 9-4. The Cobras dominated the match after that, outscoring the Sharks 11-4 after the match was tied 14-14.
Game 2 was tied eight times and Nature Coast held an 18-13 lead before Hudson got key serves from Kerns again to close it out. Neither team took much of a lead in Game 3. The Sharks led by five points once (9-4) and Hudson didn't get its first lead until 12-11. The match was tied eight times, the last at 22-22. Lacey Carley began serving with Nature Coast leading 22-21 and the Cobras two kills each from Katy McGee and Cara Carley to close out the match.
RIVER RIDGE WINS 7TH STRAIGHT TITLE
NEW PORT RICHEY When asked how many consecutive district titles River Ridge (23-4) had won, Coach Heidi Castelamare couldn't recall. After Thursday night's 25-15, 25-16, 25-18 victory against Ridgewood (14-9) in the Class 5A-District 7 final, that count stands at seven.
Overall, the program has collected 12 district titles in 14 seasons.
"We do have higher goals," Castelamare said. "It's always fabulous to win a district championship and any championship is great. And coming in, we played so flat last night, I was a little worried about where we'd be tonight."
"They just beat us at the net and we were playing defense the entire match tonight," Ridgewood coach Amber Starkey said. "We couldn't get anything going offensively."
River Ridge's Alex Laton led all attackers with 16 kills, followed by teammates Gabriella Gonzalez (7) and Leah Mitchell (7). Ridgewood was led by Lauren Vanker's four kills.
BRANDON IS TOPS IN 5A-DISTRICT 8
SEFFNER Brandon flew past Newsome 25-11, 25-18, 21-25, 25-11 to take the Class 5A-District 8 volleyball championship at Armwood on Thursday.
Brandon overwhelmed Newsome with powerful spikes and numerous blocks. Aly Woodlee had 11 kills, while Lindsey Watson and Micki Rivers added nine kills each.
Courtney Bobo blocked numerous shots and spiked the ball several times for kills. After Brandon won the first two games handily, the Wolves came back to take the third game behind Jennifer Worth's serves and kills by Hillary Byrd and Jonni Raga, pulling away midway through the set with a 7-to-3 run to take a 15-10 lead.
"Aly Woodlee came out tonight and was on fire with serving and outside hitting," Eagles coach Amy Watson said. "Our center just took over the match when things started to falter a little bit. I pulled both centers aside and said 'you guys have to take control of the match.' and they did."
PLANT TAKES 5A-10 TITLE WITH EASE
TAMPA If you added up the entire time that Plant has played in its last five district volleyball finals, it might amount to four hours.
Thursday night's Class 5A-District 10 final took 45 minutes, give or take 5 minutes.
This time the victim was Leto, which fell 25-8, 25-4, 25-7.
Leading the way were the usual suspects - Danielle Erb (10 aces, 14 kills, 11 digs), Maddie Martin (five aces, 10 kills, six digs) and Ali McCurdy (16 digs) - who seemed more than ready to lead the Panthers to a third straight state Class 5A title.
"Maybe the best news is that our health is back," Plant coach Leanna Taylor said, mainly in regards to Martin, who suffered a severe ankle sprain that sidelined her for much of the season.
Plant (24-3) will host a regional quarterfinal Wednesday, which many predict will lead to a steady march to a state championship.
COUNTRYSIDE REIGNS IN 6A-7
TAMPA Countryside extended its record to 26-0 with a 25-16, 25-20, 25-14 win against Sickles (13-12) in the Class 6A-District 7 girls volleyball final Thursday at Gaither High, but Cougars coach Kaylyn Bayly still wasn't impressed.
"To win and not play as well as we could have showed that we got complacent,'' Bayly said. "We weren't as focused as we should have been and we have some work to do.''
The win avenged Countryside's loss last year to Sickles in the district final, so there was a lingering aftertaste that Bayly said fueled the fire in the win against Sickles.
"On a good night we can play with anyone in our region,'' Bayly said. "We have a lot of work to do because we didn't play our best tonight.''
Madison Truluck dominated the net with 13 kills and Sickles spent most of the third set hitting away from her only to find Davionna DiSalvatore, who took over. Sara Wright had 30 assists for the Cougars.
LAKELAND DOWNS DURANT IN 6A-8
SARASOTA Lakeland senior and Villanova-bound hitter Krista Andersen proved to be too much as the top-seeded Dreadnaughts (21-5) beat Durant 25-17, 25-19, 25-13 in the Class 6A-District 8 championship Thursday.
Durant (12-12) will play at Countryside on Tuesday, while Lakeland will host Sickles.
"We played inconsistent and we didn't give ourselves a chance to win," Durant coach Jeff Davis said.
Senior Chelsea Morris led Durant with 17 kills, while Anderson led Lakeland with 19. The win puts the Naughts in the state playoffs for the first time since 2003.
"It's been our goal for the last three years to make it to Lakeland [for the state tournament]," Lakeland coach Crystal Ramsey said.
Durant, last year's 6A state-runner-up, won the district title last year.
"I would never overlook Durant," Ramsey said. "They're a team that will cause problems in the regionals."