LAKELAND — The Dreadnaughts were one step from their first state volleyball final four, but Newsome got in their way in Saturday's 5A region final. Newsome (18-7) used its big front line and strong service game to edge Lakeland 25-23, 30-28, 25-21.
The match reached its most intense point during the second set, when Lakeland rallied from 21-17 down to take a 24-23 lead. The Dreadnaughts had a chance to win the set on that point, but a kill attempt by Rachel Martin sailed just long. Lakeland and Newsome continued to trade points until the Wolves took a 29-28 lead, then closed out the set when Lakeland's Hope Andreadis hit an attack into the net.
The Dreadnaughts (20-6) fought back again in the third set from down 11-5, but Newsome pulled away from an 18-all tie to close out the match. Newsome only had four aces, but its servers mixed up their pace and height throughout the match and forced costly errors by the Dreadnaughts defense.
First-year Wolves coach Kate Correa said her team's plan was to stay on the attack against Lakeland's solid defense and not give the Dreadnaughts any free balls.
"Our defense is not as tight as theirs was, so we had to block and put balls away," Correa said.
Both teams struggled to get going in the first set, hitting numerous attacks out of bounds and not receiving attacks cleanly. Lakeland took a 22-20 lead late, but unforced errors led to a 24-23 Newsome lead that Lauren Zellmer converted into a 25-23 victory with a strong kill through Lakeland's defense.
Hillary Byrd had six kills for Newsome, Nicole Lafita had three aces and Zellmer had five kills.
"I can't even believe that we came out winning in three. I mean, that's our motto, go out in five; we like to drag it out," Correa said.