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Class 5A volleyball: Royal Knights get 'cocky,' then refocus

River Ridge’s Leah Mitchell (12) and Alex Laton go up for a block against Newsome’s Hillary Byrd. Laton had 15 kills.

LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN | Times

River Ridge’s Leah Mitchell (12) and Alex Laton go up for a block against Newsome’s Hillary Byrd. Laton had 15 kills.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Leah Mitchell did a cartwheel with a two-game lead and her River Ridge teammates in firm command.

Life was good.

But these are the playoffs, and Newsome wasn't simply going to pack up and go home. When the Wolves battled to take Game 3, a comeback and an upset seemed possible.

The lost game proved to be a minor setback as River Ridge snapped out of its funk and walked away Wednesday night defeating Newsome 25-17, 25-15, 25-27, 25-19 in a Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinal.

"I think everyone got a little cocky," Mitchell said. "We thought (Game 3) would be as easy as the first two games, but it wasn't. … It shows us what we need to work on. We gave them a lot of points."

Newsome (12-4) ended its season with the program's second playoff berth.

The Royal Knights (24-4) overcame a ton of unforced errors but still seized control, jumping out by several points in the first two games.

In Game 3, Newsome led 3-2 on a kill by Jennifer Worth. The Wolves went up by as many as 10 thanks to strong play from Hillary Byrd, Jonni Raga and Nikki Doehrmann.

River Ridge stormed back to 24-23 on one of Mitchell's six kills. Newsome grabbed the lead for good at 25-24 on a kill by Byrd before forcing a fourth game.

River Ridge trailed Game 4 early but took the lead for good at 13-12 one of Mitchell's seven blocks.

The Royal Knights got solid play from several players including Alex Laton (15 kills), Gabriella Gonzalez (six kills, seven blocks) and Irene Townsend (23 digs).

"It's nice to see we can come back to tie the score," River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare said. "That shows we have a lot of character."

River Ridge def>> Newsome


25-17, 25-15, 25-27, 25-19

Class 5A volleyball: Royal Knights get 'cocky,' then refocus 11/05/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 10:34pm]
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