HOLIDAY — The Anclote Tournament from the Deep volleyball event on Saturday was noteworthy for a couple of reasons, with the host Sharks placing in the top three and Wharton suffering its first loss of the season.
Lakeland George Jenkins (21-3) topped the 11-team field by winning the three-team championship round and handing the previously unbeaten Wildcats (22-1) their first blemish.
The field was divided into three pools, with the winners of Friday's pool play advancing to a round-robin championship Saturday.
Wharton had no issues during pool play, beating Carrollwood Day, Bishop McLaughlin and Hudson without dropping a set.
Jenkins (21-3) cruised through it pool, toppling both Ridgewood and Zephyrhills in straight sets.
Anclote (14-9) scored three victories in its pool, over Chamberlain, Gulf and Dixie Hollins.
In the championship round, Anclote was beaten by both Wharton 25-17, 25-22, and Jenkins 25-10, 25-20, so the Jenkins-Wharton match, which was the first one played Saturday, proved to be for the title.
Jenkins used its team speed and communication skills to edge Wharton 27-25 in the first game and that continued in the second as the Wildcats fell 25-21.
Despite the ending, the Anclote coach and players felt good about holding their own against two elite programs.
In the Sharks' four-year history, coach Chris Vergnaud said this was the first time his team has challenged in the finals for a tournament title. "I know we have the potential to be a top team," Vergnaud said. "I was glad to see (the girls) build the confidence they need. We have a lot of mental toughness this year, and they proved it."
Sharks junior hitter Aaliyah Anderson totaled a team-high 25 kills during the event.
Carrollwood Day took fourth place, just ahead of Ridgewood (fifth) and Chamberlain (sixth).