BRANDON — Brandon coach Amy Watson didn't want any part of a fourth game.
"I didn't want it to go to four," Watson said. "If it went to four, I would have expected it to go to five."
No worries, Coach. A stirring third-game comeback Tuesday made sure a fourth wasn't necessary.
Brandon fought off a pair of game points in the third and Micki Rivers tipped over the winner as Brandon defeated River Ridge 25-14, 25-20, 28-26, knocking the Royal Knights out of the region semifinals for the second consecutive season.
"We made too many errors," River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare said. "And I was surprised they moved that well for their size."
Brandon's defensive quickness was on display throughout the match. The Eagles (25-1) were able to quickly transition into their offense and deliver quality sets thanks to solid footwork.
"I've always told them, defense wins matches," Watson said.
After leading just once throughout the first two games — River Ridge led 2-1 in the first — the Royal Knights (24-5) came out strong in the third. They built a 12-6 advantage and were ahead 24-21.
"I think we were a little tired and overconfident in the third," said Aly Woodlee, who had a match-high 13 kills. "We just had to pull together."
Back-to-back aces by Grecia Garcia gave Brandon a 25-24 lead, but kills from River Ridge's Alex Laton (team-high 12 kills) and Irene Townsend tied it at 26.
But Lindsey Watson's spike put the Eagles ahead and Rivers' (six kills) tip booked a ticket to Saturday's region final, one step shy of the final four in Lakeland.
"Coach always tells us not to look to Lakeland," Woodlee said. "We've got one more hump to get over first."
Watson added 15 assists and three aces while teammate Devin Whale finished with 17 assists and 11 digs. River Ridge's Leah Mitchell recorded 10 kills, including five in the final game.