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BROOKSVILLE — Initially, Nature Coast couldn’t get out of its own way in its region quarterfinal against Hudson.
The Sharks stumbled out of the blocks Tuesday. They hit their serves into the net. Hudson’s serves found gaping openings in the Sharks’ defense.
At one point, Nature Coast libero Alexa Coscia and outside hitter Courtney Liddle toppled over one another while the ball fell between them.
Once Nature Coast regrouped though, Hudson had no answer for the Sharks’ plethora of capable attackers.
Led by a well-rounded offense that saw four players record five or more kills, Nature Coast rebounded from its early struggles to put away Hudson 24-26, 25-14, 25-19, 25-15 and advance to the region semifinals for the second year in a row.
"We handed them a lot of points early,” Nature Coast coach Emily Gore said. “It’s tough when you’re playing yourself and the other team, especially against Hudson. They’re a quality team.”
Hudson (16-8) built a six-point lead in Game 1, but Nature Coast (24-4) won seven of the next eight points to tie the score at 21-all. The Sharks had a game point at 24-23, but Cheye-anne Savage’s kill kept the Cobras alive. Hudson earned the win behind two strong serves from Paige Winters.
Game 2 was all Nature Coast. The Sharks opened up a 10-4 lead, let Hudson cut the gap to 11-9, then took the next five points to win going away.
“The way we responded toward the end of Game 1, to fight back like we did was huge for us going into Game 2,” Gore said. “It was a little bit of a letdown to not pull out Game 1, but we did well in Game 2.”
Nature Coast led wire-to-wire in the final two games.
Liddle paced Nature Coast with a game-high 22 kills, but the Sharks also got solid contributions from Michelle Doucet (six kills), Sierra Ruiz (six kills), Kathy Hoak (five kills) and Courtney Skinner (four kills). Sharks setter Lauren Powell had 37 assists.
Hudson, which got 12 kills, 14 digs and two aces from Karlie Lamphier, lacked the attacking options to keep pace.
“It’s frustrating, but I feel we had a great season,” Hudson coach Kortney Newton said. “We came out pumped out and let our errors bring us down.”