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TAMPA — Realignment placed Freedom and King volleyball teams in different districts this season, so Tuesday’s match between the former district rivals didn’t mean anything in terms of postseason seedings.
But with district tournaments looming next week, the matchup between surging county programs was a valuable tuneup for the second season.
And Freedom, which ended King’s season last year in the district semifinals, halted King’s current momentum Tuesday by snapping the Lions’ seven-match win streak and spoiling senior night with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-22 win.
“We knew King was going to be tough,” Freedom coach Kerry Short said. “It’s unfortunate we’re not in the same district anymore. It’s good to have that kind of competition.”
King’s serving game — a strength this season — struggled, which led to the Lions falling behind early before rallying late.
“We could hardly get it over tonight,” King coach Cookie Mitchell said. “They were all kind of out of sorts. I can’t even say they couldn’t handle the pressure because they’ve been under pressure before. They have what it takes to put it together. They just couldn’t put it together tonight.”
After taking the first game, Freedom (15-7) ran out to a 21-7 lead in Game 2, winning 10 of 11 points. After a timeout, King narrowed the gap to 24-20, fighting off four game points before dropping the game 25-20.
“It was too little too late,” Mitchell said. “If we had that comeback earlier in the second game, we would have won the second game, but we were already down 10 points.”
In Game 3, King (15-7) rallied to tie the game at 22, but Freedom scored the final three points, including the final point on a rotation violation.
“That’s one thing about volleyball,” Short said. “There’s really no such thing as a comfortable lead. Even when you think, ‘Okay, we’re going to finish this,’ somehow another team can come back. I’m just glad my girls came back and were able to finish it.”
Sophomore Hannah Kaczmarek led Freedom with 15 kills, while junior Jasmyn Perry added 12. Sophomore Kayla Ireland had a team-high 15 digs and sophomore setter Kelly Schaller tallied 33 assists and 14 service points.
King middle hitter Madison Sroufe led the Lions with 11 kills, but King managed just 17 kills as a team, one of its lowest totals of the season.