NEW PORT RICHEY — Mitchell took the first lead in all three sets of Saturday’s Class 6A reigon final, but no lead was safe against defending state champion Venice, which won 25-12, 25-10, 25-14.
“With a team like them, you don’t have any margin for error,” Mitchell coach Keith Paulk said.
He said the Mustangs had good scoring streaks, but they also had rough patches, and the Indians never let up.
Despite the loss, Paulk said he has nothing but pride for his team and its positive attitude. What people will remember, he added, is that the Mustangs had a 20-game win streak.
“They really put it together,” he said.
A block by Mitchell’s Kayla Widera started Game 1, and a kill and a block by Bailey Sassatelli kept Mitchell in the lead. Venice scored on a Mitchell error for its first lead at 5-4 and didn’t give it back.
The Mustangs pulled away in the second set with three kills by Daniele Green and another by Shayna Filippelli. Errors by Venice gave Mitchell a four-point lead at 7-3, but a wide shot by Mitchell started an Indians rally.
Widera scored first in the third set as the Mustangs surged ahead 3-1. It was the last time they would take the lead. Errors and kills combined to sink Mitchell, but the girls kept fighting back, scoring eight kills in the final game.
Widera led the Mustangs with five kills, followed by Green and Filippelli with four each.
Sophomore Hannah Richards led the Indians with 10 kills.
Paulk said Venice’s smooth victories in three sets show why they’re the defending state champions.
“But we’re getting there,” he said.
5A: Quicks starts don’t hold for Fivay
BELLVIEW — Fivay led in all three games Saturday, but couldn’t dispatch Belleview in a Class 5A region final.
The Falcons (24-7), making their second straight region final appearance, fell 25-23, 25-21 and 25-20.
“We worked really hard, and we were district runnerup last year and district champs this year,” Fivay coach Nikki Pollock said.
“I know the girls are upset, and I’m really proud of them. Moving forward, we’ll keep building, and the more we get into the postseason, there will be less nerves. We’ll go from there.”
The Falcons got off to a great start, leading 12-4 in Game 1. Jordyn Mattos served the first three points for the Falcons, and outside hitter Briannah Nemetz had nine points.
Errors in the service and return game contributed points to both teams. With the score knotted at 23 apiece, Fivay hit the ball out of bounds giving the Rattlers (25-5) the serve. Taylor Wear got the game point.
The Falcons trailed 8-3 in the second game, but went on a 10-2 run, taking advantage of Belleview return and service errors and good play by Nemetz, who contributed a kill and block for points during the run.
The Falcons’ Amber Lake had a kill, while Mattos and Alli Hudson contributed nice dump points for a 13-10 lead. Fivay took another 18-15 lead, but couldn’t hold on thanks to service and return errors.
The Rattlers got quality returning as a team and timely kills from Alexis Day, Mikaylah Gillespie and Savannah Phillips to go up by two games.
In the final game, Gillespie had six kills and two blocks.
“Both teams played great, and we respected (Fivay) so much. We wanted our best game,” Rattlers coach Gary Greer said.
Joseph Kornecki III, Times correspondent