SPRING HILL — The biggest rivalry in Hernando County volleyball featured momentum shifts that came quickly and without warning Wednesday night.
In the end, it was Nature Coast that was able to take advantage of the final swing and capture the jam-packed gymnasium for a four-game victory, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21.
While the leader of the Sharks as usual was captain and hitter Courtney Liddle (18 kills, four aces), she was quick to point out that a team effort was important to maintain the advantage the team took later in the match.
“All of the girls out there came up big for us,” Liddle said. “Our serving was great, and Courtney Crawford helps us out a lot.”
Crawford (16 kills), a senior transfer from Hernando, has given Nature Coast (19-1) another hitter on the outside to go with Liddle.
After splitting the first two games, the Sharks were on the ropes when Springstead (17-5) went up 16-8 out of the gate. The fight in Nature Coast became evident when the visiting team answered with a 12-0 run to take a 20-16 lead, forcing the Eagles to burn two timeouts along the way.
“It’s important to get momentum, but I’d say it’s more important to keep it,” Nature Coast coach Emily Gore said. “I can’t say enough about how hard we played in Game 3.”
Springstead was never able to rebound after that. Although the Eagles kept it close in the fourth game behind strong performances from Megan Morrison (15 kills) and Carly Wiggins (seven kills), unforced errors kept them just out of reach of a comeback.
“This was a huge test for us,” Gore said. “It shows our potential. It’s all going to come down to our focus.”