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BROOKSVILLE — For the second straight season, Nature Coast came up just short of a state final four berth with a tough loss on the road in the region finals.
The Sharks fell 26-24, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21 to St. Johns Creekside after traveling three and a half hours for the Class 5A region final Saturday.
Nature Coast (25-3) met a similar fate last season, falling in Ocala in to Vanguard, but the defeat this season is much tougher. With senior team leader Courtney Liddle playing her final postseason, the Sharks were sure they had what it took to make their first state semifinal.
“It was a rough way to go out because we all knew we had the potential to go further,” Liddle said. “They were a beatable team, and we just let it go.”
The Sharks made 14 service errors in the contest and had a lot of difficulty handling the pressure of a road test against the Knights (24-5).
“We made a lot of communication errors,” Liddle said. “It definitely wasn’t our best effort.”
Liddle isn’t the only player Nature Coast coach Emily Gore will lose for next season. Along with the top hitter, the program will graduate its second- and third-best hitters (Courtney Crawford and Michelle Doucet) and two of its best servers and defensive players (April Gillis and Lauren Powell).
“The thing I am going to miss most is the fans,” Liddle said. “We could always count on the fans being loud no matter which opponent it was. I love playing in an atmosphere like that.”