HUDSON — The Falcons were starting to look tired.
After keeping the lead for all of the first two sets, they battled ties throughout the third. Coach Nikki Pollock called a timeout and told them to quit giving up points.
They listened. Fivay came back to steal the set, winning the match and the 5A region quarterfinal 25-16, 25-13, 25-22 against Weeki Wachee on Tuesday.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Pollock said.
The Falcons advance to next week’s semifinals to face Anclote for the third time this season.
Weeki Wachee took its first lead when a wide shot by Fivay gave up the first point of Game 3. The Hornets didn’t rely on errors to keep it, however, scoring several kills and blocks to stay ahead.
Fivay rallied from a four-point deficit with kills by Courtney Costa, Ashleigh Nemetz and Jordyn Mattos, tying the score again.
The Falcons took their first lead at 17-16, but had to fight to keep it. Kills by Nemetz and Amber Lake and a few Weeki Wachee errors gave the Falcons a cushion.
Fivay went up 24-18 accompanied by shouts of “Don’t give up yet!”
The Falcons didn’t, and Pollock called a timeout after the Hornets pulled within two points.
Pollock’s insistence that the girls focus on their side of the net helped them clinch match point.
Nemetz led the Falcons with 13 kills, and her sister, Briannah, tallied nine. Alli Hudson and Lake each had five kills. Mattos, the setter, had two kills and 31 assists.
Anclote is a familiar foe, Pollock said after the match, and a tough team to beat.
“We’re going to have to play hard,” she said. “Were going to have to bring the attack. …We’re going to have to play our volleyball.”
5A: Anclote gets a fight from Hernando
BROOKSVILLE — Anclote cruised through the first set Tuesday, but advancing to the Class 5A region semifinals was hardly a breeze, as evidenced by its 25-6, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21 win over Hernando.
“It was a little sloppy, but once we started playing our volleyball, it got better,” Anclote coach Chris Vergnaud said. “These girls won’t quit. You’re going to see a fight from us every time.”
Anclote (22-7) came out firing on all cylinders, overwhelming Hernando (17-6) with its power at the net. Before the Leopards could even blink, the first set went to the Sharks in a landslide.
After falling behind at the beginning of the second set, Hernando coach Robin Bailey pulled out her leading hitter, freshman Ali Bronson. Bronson had only one kill in the first two sets after averaging double figures all season.
“(Bailey) just told me to put aside whatever I was feeling and play hard,” Bronson said. “I wanted to play the best I could because I knew it was (senior captain Tana McDaniel’s) last (match).”
It seemed to be a turning point for not only the freshman standout but her team. Bronson finished with a team-high 13 kills while no other Leopard was able to accrue more than five (McDaniel). Down 13-5, the momentum shift turned into a 17-2 run for Hernando in the third set.
Confidence took hold, and the Sharks were forced to fight tooth and nail in the fourth set for every point. The four-player front of Marissa Neidermeyer (19 kills, six aces), Aaliyah Anderson (14 kills, one ace), Mia Lockhart (eight kills, one kill) and Taja Maxwell (eight kills, one ace) was too much for Hernando to handle. The group scored kills on 19 of the 25 points Anclote scored in the clinching set.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons along the net,” Vergnaud said. “It’s great for us because when all four of them are on fire and working hard, they are like a well-oiled machine.”
7A: Unbeaten Durant sweeps Wiregrass Ranch
DURANT — The Durant Cougars devoured the Wiregrass Ranch Bulls in Class 7A region action Tuesday night.
The Cougars (27-0) blasted out of the slips, cruising to a 25-16 win in the first set only to complete the sweep with 25-20 wins in both the second and third sets.
The home-court advantage played out 30 minutes before the match began as the Durant student section built up the gym to fever pitch after the first Cougar point.
Kelsey Morton and Madison Adkins were on fire for the Cougars in the first set. Morton scored her first of four kills to make it 6-3 Durant, and Adkins bagged four of her match-high seven kills in that first set.
“I’m really proud of her (Adkins); she grew as a player tonight,” Cougar coach Brittany Wade said.
Senior hitter and Ole Miss commit Lexi Thompson took her hits — but took them to her body. In the first set, Thompson hit the post coming down from a jump. In the second set, Thompson collided with a teammate’s knee. And in the third set, Thompson jammed her left wrist diving after a ball.
“(Getting injured) actually makes me madder, helps me step it up,” Thompson said.
Thompson notched seven kills, digging out multiple serves and shots off the back line and saving several balls to keep points alive.
Teammate Victoria Fanning logged seven kills of her own, including the final point of the match.
The Cougars have a full week to prepare for their region semifinal showdown with Steinbrenner, which beat Plant City. The 24-3 Warriors have only lost one game to a Hillsborough County team this year — a 3-2 loss to Durant on Sept. 21.
3A: Hurricanes face familiar foe next
Bishop McLaughlin clinched a Class 3A region quarterfinal win against host Winter Haven All Saints’, 25-15, 25-12, 25-17.
Hurricanes coach Doug Chinchar said the girls on both sides of the net played carefully and slowly.
He said some of his players lost their concentration a few times during the match, but were able to focus enough to seal the win. Bishop McLaughlin gets a rematch with district champ Tampa Prep next week in the semifinals.
Aileen Hnatiuk led the Hurricanes with 16 kills, and Alyssa Mathis had 15.
Chinchar said the team will need to improve its focus if it hopes to continue this season’s success.
“We need to make a few adjustments, make a few improvements,” Chinchar said. “We’ve got to get ready.”
Correspondents Derek J. LaRiviere and Andy Warrener contributed to this report.