8A-9: East Bay advances to first district final
PLANT CITY — The top four seeds in the Class 8A,District 9 volleyball tournament — East Bay, Durant, Bloomingdale and Plant City — are about as close in ability as four teams can get.
Case in point were Tuesday’s district semifinals where East Bay and Bloomingdale won tight matches against teams that beat them during the regular season: East Bay defeated Plant City 25-23, 25-20, 25-23, and Bloomingdale defeated Durant 25-23, 25-23, 25-22.
Now East Bay (12-3) and Bloomingdale (10-9) face off Thursday night for the district title in a match that looks like another tossup. In the teams’ one regular-season match, East Bay won 15-13 in the fifth set.
“I expect it to be a lot like (Tuesday’s semifinals) except I’ll bet (the final) goes at least four sets,” East Bay coach Brian Adams. “It should be exciting.”
For East Bay it will be no less than historic because the Indians will be playing in their first volleyball district final following a season of firsts that includes its first winning record and its first victories over Bloomingdale, Durant and Plant City.
For Bloomingdale it will offer a chance for a satisfying finish to a season that got off to a rough 3-5 start.
“We’ve come a long way,” Bloomingdale coach Claudia Puig said. “Tonight I was really proud of the way we continued playing well no matter if we were up or down, or whatever the score was. We’ve worked really hard to get that mentality.”
Perhaps the Bulls’ most impressive moment on Tuesday came in the second set when they trailed 23-20 only to win the next five points and take a 2-0 sets lead.
East Bay had a similarly impressive run in its first set when it trailed 22-20 but won five of the next six points.
“Our team has been like that all year,” Adams said. “They never get too tight.”