LAKELAND — At the state tournament, losing teams' news conferences aren't usually filled with smiles and laughter.
But Newsome is not your average team.
Three weeks ago, the Wolves needed five sets to clinch a region tournament berth. They entered the playoffs a district runnerup, so they had to win three games on the road to get here.
Wednesday, in Newsome's first trip to state, the Wolves faced their tallest obstacle yet — Martin County, the No. 11-ranked team in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.
The Wolves weren't intimidated.
"It was like we we're playing Armwood again," outside hitter Lauren Zellmer said.
But they were overmatched.
Newsome (19-9) fell in three sets, 25-14, 25-16, 25-15, ending the best season in school history. The Wolves entered the season having never won a region tournament game in the school's six-year history.
"They outplayed us," first-year coach Kate Correa said. "We tried our hardest. I wish we could have taken them on again. … I want to play them again, so I'm going to work hard to get back here."
The Tigers were led by sisters Elise Walch (6-foot-4) and Nicole Walch (6-3), making every swing an adventure for Newsome. Elise Walch tallied a match-high 19 kills and Nicole Walch added nine.
After dropping the first set, Newsome rallied to tie Game 2 at 15-all, but Martin County ended the set with 10 of the next 11 points.
"We never give up," Correa said. "Don't count us out. If you think we're down, we might be coming right back on your heels."
Newsome made 23 attack errors and outside of Zellmer, who had eight kills, no Wolves hitter had more than three (Jonni Raga and Hannah Zellmer had three each). Raga had a team-high eight digs and setter Nicole Lafita added 10 assists.
"This is a dream season," senior co-captain Hillary Byrd said. "We worked so hard to get here. We worked for every point to get here."