Class 6A, Winter Haven 3, Mitchell 2: Mitchell’s season ended in the Class 6A region quarterfinals for the third consecutive year with a heartbreaking loss at Winter Haven, 22-25, 28-26, 28-26, 25-20, 15-8.
“It’s absolutely a tough way to lose,” coach Keith Paulk said.
The Mustangs (18-7) matched Winter Haven kill for kill all night. Both teams staved off set points in the second and third games before the Blue Devils (17-3) pulled out victories in both.
The Mustangs rallied to lead the entire fourth game and take Winter Haven to the brink. But the Blue Devils controlled the fifth, and Mitchell never recovered.
“Everything just worked against us there at the end,” Paulk said. “The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
Mitchell had its best kill night of the season in the loss. Senior Lyndsey Lane led the Mustangs with 19 kills, and senior Jessika Hester added 17 kills.
District cross country
Class 2A, District 8: Gulf dominated Tuesday’s district meet, sweeping the individual and team championships.
Junior Kari Grippo claimed her second straight girls title (20:43.87) ahead of teammate Eliza Gazda (21:40.03) to help Gulf finish 47 points ahead of runnerup Ridgewood. Rams senior Samantha Martinez finished third individually (21:41.96), followed by four more Bucs: Mia Savino, Katie Buckman, Elaine Gavallas and Abigail Raymond.
Gulf’s boys were almost as strong, finishing 43 points ahead of second-place Frostproof.
Senior Nick Buliga avenged last year’s runnerup finish by finishing in 16:26.58 — 14 seconds ahead of defending champion Dalton Shelton (Lake Placid). John Eckles placed third (16:54.65) to help Ridgewood finish third as a team. Gulf’s James Raymond (fifth), Wesley Best (seventh), Mike Keller (eighth) and Robby Jessup (11th) also placed in the top 12.
Joe He and Ryoto Furuya, Saddlebrook Prep: The golfers had the North Suncoast’s best rounds on a windy, chilly day. They both shot 7-over 79s to finish Day 1 tied for 17th in the Class A state boys tournament.
Mallory Etcheberry, Academy at the Lakes: The senior fired 11-over 83 in rough conditions to finish the first round of the Class A girls golf finals tied for 41st place.
Kari Grippo, Gulf: The junior cross country standout won the 2A-8 meet by almost a full minute.
Nick Buliga, Gulf: The senior cross country runner earned a district title with a 14-second victory.
Lyndsey Lane, Mitchell: The 6-foot senior ended her career with a 19-kill night in a loss to Winter Haven. That was her second-highest total of the season.
By the numbers
3 Land O’Lakes girls soccer players who scored Tuesday. Holly Nasello, Catherine Gray and Kameryn Kailimai had one goal each in the Gators’ first win of the season — a 3-1 victory over Clearwater Central Catholic.
14 Gulf runners (out of 14) to finish in the top 15 in Tuesday’s Class 2A, District 8 meet
48 Assists by Mitchell junior setter Shayna Filippelli
4 Losses in five games (out of seven total defeats) by Mitchell’s volleyball team