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LIVENGOOD'S PLAY LEAVES NO DOUBT

The Sharks' outside hitter draws praise from her coach as they put away Central in a sweep.

Dan Murphy gushed about the play of his talented outside hitter.

The Nature Coast coach had grown used to seeing Alex Livengood perform at a higher level than most. During Wednesday's victory against rival Central, she played beyond herself.

"Alex had a banner night," Murphy said. "She didn't only bang the ball down, she smartly put the ball in a lot of spots, even with soft touches. ... This is one of the best nights I've ever seen her have."

The Sharks won 26-24, 25-21, 25-17 despite falling behind 2-0 in each game and trailing by as many as four in the first two.

Livengood led the Sharks (2-0) with eight aces and 12 kills. Perhaps her most significant series of the night was in Game 2 as her unstoppable serve overpowered the Bears (1-1) and helped secure another lead.

"We got in her head one time, but when she got back to serve she took it out on us," Central coach Emily Gore said. "She ate us up with those serves. ... It took me two (timeouts) to get to her. She was just pounding it. That's the sign of a great player."

Interestingly, Livengood felt she and the team had a subpar night.

"We were just going through the motions," Livengood said. "I could have played better. ... I just wanted to beat them in three games."

Murphy will continue to tinker with his lineup. He praised the play of freshman Courtney Skinner and sophomore Courtney Liddle (15 kills).

Central had some solid play from Quynn Fonseca (five blocks, four kills), Brooke Wardlow (four blocks) and Samantha Berberette (17 digs).

But it was clear there were no moral victories as some of Central's players walked off in tears.

"(This game) means a lot because of past situations (with Nature Coast)," Gore said. "It's becoming the hated rivalry in county."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@sptimes.com or (813) 421-3886.

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