Bonnie Hess has seen just about all there is to see in her 21 years of coaching volleyball. She has coached successful programs at Bayshore Christian, Berkeley Prep and Horace Mann Junior High.
And for the past four years, her Bloomingdale teams have hung quite a few losses on opponents. So many that after starting 6-0, the Bulls gave Hess her 300th career win. After Tuesday night, there is one thing Hess will be in no hurry to see again _ the inside of East Lake's gym.
That is the sight of Hess' 70th all-time loss. East Lake did everything it needed to do in defeating Bloomingdale 15-8, 15-8 in a Class 6A regional quarterfinal match. The loss came nearly two years to the day after the Eagles ended the Bulls' state championship hopes.
Hess called it an off year in an up-and-down campaign that began in 1994. Last year, the Bulls reached the regional semifinals.
"It was a good season," Hess said. "We started out strong then struggled in the midseason."
The same thing that bothered the Bulls (17-10) midway through the year plagued them Tuesday. And it was the exact problem Bloomingdale had no answer for in 1995 as well.
Seven missed serves in the first game corralled the Bulls and but them in an inescapable dilemma. Bloomingdale took one-point leads early in each game, but fell behind quickly.
The experienced squad that featured four seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup succumbed to the success story that is East Lake (21-8). Playing for their third coach in four years, with no 6-footers and just one starting senior, the Eagles advanced to their third straight regional semifinal.
The Eagles responded as Faith Tarver and Ryane Resmondo combined for 18 kills.
Susan Bindshedler, who Hess called "the best player I've ever had" led Bloomingdale with 10 kills - most coming off setter Brooke Waite's 10 assists.
Class 6A, North II
BRADENTON _ Gaither held early leads in both games, but couldn't hang on and was eliminated by host Manatee High 15-8, 15-4 in a regional quarterfinal.
Gaither (11-5) was ahead 5-1 in the first game and 3-0 in the second, but lost the lead both times as the Hurricanes' inside duo of Kristen Batt (10 kills) and Jeanette Beiler (eight kills, two blocks) controlled things at the net.
But Gaither coach Kevin Reynolds didn't blame his team's defeat on being outhit at the net, rather on the officiating.
"The officials blew the game for us," he said. "My team cannot beat the officials."
Jessica Sattler led Gaither with four service points and four kills, while Beth Salewski contributed three points, three kills and two blocks.
Manatee (27-4), which was hosting its first regional match under 12th-year coach Ted Rigo and in the playoffs for the first time since 1988, moves on to Friday's regional semifinals.
_ ROB MARINO
Class 5A, South I
DURANT _ With a strong first-game win and a struggle in Game 2, third-ranked Durant pulled out a 15-3, 16-14 win over Sarasota to win its regional quarterfinal match and will travel to the semifinals Friday against top-ranked Clearwater.
The Cougars took control early, behind a balanced attack led by Mindy Miltner and Jennifer Sebastian on the serving line and Shelbylynn McBride from all other spots on the court. Sebastian served seven points in the match and Miltner six.
McBride recorded 12 kills and three digs, plus served five points, including three aces.
Bethany Stephens was another major factor in the Cougar victory. The senior setter recorded 16 assists.
Durant put Sarasota on its heels in the first game, scoring the first 11 points.
Game 2 was a different matter. Sarasota was out front 9-1 before the Cougars got into the battle.
Then the whole team seemed to find more determination, forcing Sailor errors to get to a 15-14 lead.
Service changed four times at that score before Miltner served the winning point.
"We were attacking the ball from all points on the court in the first game," Durant coach Teri Ohme said. "Then we started letting down and stopped playing our game. Once we went back on the attack, we were able to force Sarasota to start making mistakes again. I don't think Sarasota has played a team that attacks from so many places on the court. They didn't seem to know how to defend."
Senior middle hitter Catherine Evensen was the big gun for the Sailors. She served eight points and recorded three kills in the match.
_ TERRY JONES
Class 4A, South I
LAKELAND _ First-year Sickles saw a big lead disappear in the final game as Lake Gibson won the regional quarterfinal clash at home.
After Lake Gibson won the first game 15-7 and Sickles took Game 2 16-14, Sickles took an 8-1 lead in the third, but the Braves came back. Lake Gibson senior Ashley Setz served the final five points to close out the match.
"That was a stress test," Lake Gibson coach Jeff Cairns said. "Guts got us through tonight."
Lake Gibson had to overcome a strong-serving squad. The Gryphons (12-5) jumped out to the lead in the second and third games behind the serves of sophomores Melissa Motz and Kim Rice.
Motz served four straight points in the second game to fuel the win, while Rice's five straight gave Sickles a three-point lead in the deciding third game.
Lake Gibson (20-6) fought back, eventually taking a 9-8 lead. Sickles then went on a 5-1 spurt and looked to be on the verge of clinching a victory. But the Braves took advantage of two straight missed hits to get the win.
"I have to give Lake Gibson credit, they stayed off the deep serve, which has worked for us all season," Sickles coach Sam Cibrone said. "But I'm very proud of this team, especially with this being the first year they've played together."
Rice and Jesse Dramante led Sickles with 11 kills each. Ashely Greco added 10 kills and seven blocks. The Braves were paced by senior Marni Young's 15 kills. Setz had 15 aces and 23 assists.
_ TIM CRAIG