According to first-year Springstead volleyball coach Darcy Hinton, the Eagles' five-game upset of Wiregrass Ranch in Tuesday night's Class 4A, District 8 quarterfinals was a landmark triumph for at least two reasons.
Not only was the victory the program's first in a district tournament in eight years, it assured Springstead (13-12) of a nonlosing season for the first time since 1993.
"It's the girls," said Hinton, a former Armwood High standout who played club volleyball for Hall of Fame Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino. "I lucked into a lot of talent. I taught them some technique and the rest has been raw talent."
By the looks of the roster, more landmark victories could be forthcoming by decade's end. The Eagles' top setter and two middle hitters are freshmen, and ultra-talented libero Michelle DeJesus is a sophomore.
Gators' SAC streak in peril
While Land O'Lakes senior Felix Soto appears a prohibitive favorite to win a third consecutive Sunshine Athletic Conference cross country title Saturday, his team's quest for a fourth consecutive championship faces a major challenge.
Third-year program Wiregrass Ranch, which has edged the Gators in the teams' only two legitimate meetings this season, stands as a bona fide threat to Land O'Lakes' streak at the SAC Championships at Withlacoochee River Park.
"It's going to come down to five points, I think," Gators coach Kris Keppel said.
The teams' previous meetings came down to even fewer. In the season-opening Wiregrass Ranch Stampede on the Bulls' home course, Wiregrass edged the Gators 39-43, but Land O'Lakes was running at a predetermined pace.
Five days later, the teams tied for second at the Zak Lukas Invitational in Brooksville, with Wiregrass winning the tiebreaker because of a better finish by its No. 6 runner. The Gators finished fifth, 14 places ahead of the Bulls, at the recent Gator Invitational, but Wiregrass used essentially its second string in that race.
"If our (Nos.) 4 and 5 (runners) can be in those top 14 positions, that's what we're looking for," Keppel said.
Compiled by staff writers Joey Knight and Izzy Gould.
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Andreychuk takes in volleyball
Former Tampa Bay Lightning star Dave Andreychuk, right, saw Academy at the Lakes fall to Lakeside Christian in the Class A-9 tournament Tuesday. Andreychuk's daughters, Caci and Taylor, play for AATL.
Numbers of the day
586 Rushing yards needed by Gulf junior (and Ridgewood transfer) Adrian "Bubba" Golden to eclipse ex-Rams teammate Byronell Arline's record (2,188) for the North Suncoast. Gulf has three regular-season games remaining.
288.4 Rushing yards Golden has averaged in his past five contests