TRINITY — Mitchell and Osceola were accustomed to playing five-set matches, but never with so much at stake.
Both schools Tuesday were seeking their first trip to the Class 6A region finals and in the end Mitchell was steadier, winning 23-25, 25-21, 27-25, 20-25, 15-7. Mitchell won its 20th straight match and hosts Venice on Saturday.
The Mustangs went 4-0 against the Warriors this year, but three matches went the distance. Osceola shook off a dramatic third-set defeat and ensuing six-point deficit in the fourth before running out of steam.
After Osceola (14-10) won eight straight points on Jen Kistemaker’s serve to go up 16-11 in the fourth set, Mitchell (24-5) closed within 17-16 after one such epic point, ending in a kill by Daniele Green. But an ace by Katie Newman paved the way for Osceola to win the set.
Osceola gave Mitchell five points on errors, two straight as Mitchell went up 9-6. Shayna Filippelli had a kill and a block after that and Payton Murchie’s unreal dig led to the point that set the Mustangs on their way. Six-foot sophomore Kayla Widera ended it with a kill.
“Our drive carried us through that fifth,” said Mitchell libero Ryleigh Hill, who had 43 digs, including 16 in the second set.
And Mitchell displayed more variety: no one reached double figures in kills but Green, Widera and Filippelli had nine each.
The third set was a wild one. Mitchell had taken a 13-6 lead after winning the second game, but Barton served the Warriors to a 7-0 run to tie, and later drilled a shot that had the Mustangs on their heels eventually down 20-18. But Nicole Fletcher, who only had two kills to that point, scored three straight for a 25-24 edge, and the Mustangs won the set on a Widera block.
“Everything that was on the line, it all kind of kicked in for me at that point and I knew I had to play my best,” she said.
Mitchell turns to its toughest challenge next. Venice is the defending 7A state champion and has been to 10 region finals in the past 16 years.
“We’ve never really played a team like that,” said Filippelli. “We’re excited.”
5A: Fivay closes out tight match vs. Anclote
HUDSON — Red posters taped on folded bleachers proclaimed in bold black marker, “We are a family!” and “Fivay #NATION.”
That family is headed to the Class 5A region finals after defeating Anclote in three close sets, 26-24, 25-22, 26-24. It was the third time the Falcons faced the Sharks this season.
“Anclote is just a tough opponent,” Fivay coach Nikki Pollock said. “They know us well because they’ve played us so much.”
The Falcons fell in the region finals last year to end their season.
They will travel to Belleview (24-5, 7-0) Saturday for their next match. Pollock said her team will have to stay calm and focused when it faces the Rattlers.
The Sharks battled for a tie early in the first set, but Fivay pulled ahead and kept the lead.
A streak of errors by the Falcons and kills by the Sharks’ Marissa Niedermeyer allowed Anclote to tie the score at 22, 23 and 24 points. Fivay’s Ashleigh Nemetz and Briannah Nemetz scored the last two kills, giving Fivay the set.
In the second set, Fivay pulled ahead decisively after several ties. A series of kills by Ashleigh Nemetz ended the set.
The Sharks kept the lead for the majority of the third set. The Falcons pushed back to tie the score at 22, 23 and 24 points.
Anclote called timeout after a kill by Fivay’s Briannah Nemetz pulled the Falcons within one point of a victory.
“I was just telling them, ‘Don’t let it go,’ ” Pollock said.
In a repeat of the move she used to win against Anclote in the quarterfinals, Ashleigh Nemetz jumped for a block, earning the two-point lead and the win.
Ashleigh Nemetz had 15 kills to lead the Falcons, followed by Briannah Nemetz with 13 and Amber Lake with eight. Setter Jordyn Mattos had 39 assists.
Players and fans gathered in a loose circle to celebrate after Fivay took the match.
“Give credit to my team,” Pollock said. “They just do not give up.”
3A: 'Canes hang around but fall to Terps
TAMPA — Three of the four games were tight but Tampa Prep made the key plays when necessary and advanced to Saturday’s 3A region finals with a 24-26, 25-12, 25-23, 25-22 win against visiting Bishop McLaughlin.
“Those games were point for point and could have gone either way,” Terrapins coach Andrew Wilson said. “But I thought we did well when we were playing with pace, and tonight was truly a full team effort.”
The win was Tampa Prep’s third this season vs. Bishop McLaughlin — all 3-1 — and three of the games Tuesday night were decided by three points or fewer.
“We had our chances in every one of those games we lost,” Hurricanes coach Doug Chinchar said. “We were set up in the right spots, the girls just didn’t make the plays.”
Wilson was forced to do some lineup shuffling against the Hurricanes (18-7) with starting setter Natalie Galdos sidelined with a concussion. Freshman Caitlin Zettle took Galdos’ place and responded with 44 assists. Galdos is expected to return for Saturday’s region final.
“(Zettle) did a great job,” Wilson said. “She hasn’t set a complete match all season and to have a freshman come through in a region semifinal was huge.”
The Hurricanes went up 1-0 in an opening game that featured 15 ties and saw neither team lead by more than two points.
The Terrapins (17-10) seized the pivotal game three. Corey Perkins’ tip broke a 23-all tie and Kamryn Beach won the joust at the net to put Tampa Prep up 2-1. The Terps then broke a 19-all tie in Game 4 and Alana Nelson’s cross-court winner finished off the Hurricanes.
Nelson (four aces) had a team-high 16 kills, Perkins finished with 12 and Ariana Moseley chipped in with 11. The Hurricanes were led by 16 kills from Alyssa Mathis and 14 from Aileen Hnatiuk.
2 p.m. Saturday
6A: Venice at Mitchell
5A: Fivay at Belleview
Staff writer Mary Kenney and correspondent Brandon Wright contributed to this report.