BROOKSVILLE — A large cake awaited Nature Coast's two seniors in a lobby outside the gymnasium.
The Sharks celebrated senior night after just five homes games this season.
One reason for the sparse home schedule was a stout tournament offering Sharks coach Dan Murphy set up in response to premature collapses the past two seasons, he said.
Coming off another high level tournament last weekend, the Sharks showed why opponents should be wary in a punishing win Tuesday against rising Springstead 25-14, 25-13, 25-17.
"I thought there might be a little bit of a letdown," Murphy said. "They didn't let down at all."
The Sharks were led by sophomore Courtney Liddle, who finished with 16 kills and three blocks. Seniors Alex Livengood (nine kills) and Rachel Powell had higher expectations for themselves in their home finale.
Murphy was pleased with the all-around effort that resulted in arguably the Sharks' most complete victory of the season against a formidable foe.
"They're playing they way I like to see them play," Murphy said. "They're moving well and they're just clicking. The girls just play above their mistakes."
Nature Coast (12-8) jumped all over Springstead, taking the opening game by 11 and never trailing. The game ended with three consecutive aces by Sharks sophomore MacKenzie Siem.
The Sharks trailed briefly to start Game 2 but Springstead couldn't hang on, struggling to find any strong statistics. Eagles junior Kelsey Heckman led Springstead (11-4) with four kills, and Nature Coast took the second game by 12 points.
After Springstead took the opening point in Game 3 the Sharks fired back, leading by as many as five before closing out the match by eight.
"Tonight was a really good night," Liddle said. "We were all on top of our game. Not a lot of things hit the floor."
Springstead coach Darcy Hinton, whose Eagles took Hudson to five games last week, sees a teachable opportunity after the three-game sweep.
"We will watch this footage over and over and over again," Hinton said. "We will make every correction we need to make."
Hudson takes down Ridgewood: First-year Hudson coach Shayna Munson puts her players through tough practice sessions to prepare them for mentally grinding situations.
The Cobras responded at Ridgewood, facing a large deficit in Game 1 then rallying to win 25-21, 25-23, 25-19. The Class 4A, District 7 foes will face each other Oct. 22, possibly for the district title.
"My girls are getting more mentally tough," Munson said. "I'm running them through tough practices to make them more competitive. I don't know what the practices were like when (former coach Linda) McQuade was there. Being down in the first game, you didn't see the girls dropping their heads. They fought their way back."
Ridgewood (11-3, 3-2) led 8-1 then 10-2 before the Cobras stormed back to take the first game by four points.
Hudson (15-3, 5-0) fought back in Games 2 and 3, led by Cara Carley and her 18 kills.
"The adrenaline was going," Munson said. "They wanted to beat them so bad. … They're a good team and this was a great win."