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NEW PORT RICHEY — Aubree Sigismondi and Mary Kujak looked at each other and beamed as the ball spun on the net before dropping onto the gym floor — another point on a night in which nearly everything went right in Ridgewood’s three-game sweep of Anclote.
“Everything worked, I think, tonight for us,” coach Amber Starkey said after the Rams’ 25-20, 25-22, 25-9 victory Tuesday.
After suffering its second loss of the season in the championship game of a tournament in Orlando over the weekend, Ridgewood (14-2) quickly put the loss behind it. Early kills from Victoria Schaefer, Brianna Berchiolly and Leah Travers helped the Rams jump out to a 24-15 lead and win the first game.
Ridgewood’s balance was too much for Anclote (10-6) to overcome in the battle between two of Class 5A, District 8’s contenders.
The Rams had three players — Schaefer, Lauren Gonzalez and Mary Kujak — rack up at least seven kills.
“We have so many assets …,” Kujak said. “As a team, we are strong in every area.”
Ridgewood has flexed its depth all season. Five players average at least a kill per game, and six regulars average at least 20 digs.
Consider one key stretch early in the second game Tuesday, after the Sharks took a 2-1 lead — their second of the match. Schaefer’s kill started a 6-0 run that included spikes from Gonzalez and Kujak, plus an ace from Ali Sigismondi and an Anclote error that helped Ridgewood seize control of the match.
“I think we have the talent,” Starkey said. “We have to make sure that we’re tough.”
Ridgewood has been hammering mental toughness all season after a disappointing five-set loss to Zephyrhills ended the Rams’ season in the district semifinals last year.
But a deep roster and loaded senior class have Ridgewood pleased with a near flawless start but hoping for more.
“We foresaw this coming since freshman year,” Kujak said. “We had high hopes and dreams, but this is never what we imagined. We imagined it, but it’s far exceeded my expectations.”
Anclote’s loss was the second in its past three matches, and it came despite a strong performance from Mia Lockhart, who had 11 kills and took over after teammate and co-captain Aaliyah Anderson left the game with an apparent leg injury.
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.