WESLEY CHAPEL — Wiregrass Ranch and Mitchell were locked in a back-and-forth match until Grace Olsen saved the Bulls’ season opener in a matchup of two of Pasco County’s top teams.
The senior outside hitter recorded three kills and three aces in a nine-point span to help Wiregrass knock off the Mustangs 25-23, 23-25, 25-13, 26-24 Wednesday night.
“She had to play smart,” Bulls coach Mindy Kantor said. “It wasn’t swinging for the fences. It was put the ball down where she needed to put it.”
Wiregrass (1-0) started off strong behind back-to-back aces from Kayleigh Putman and some miscues by Mitchell to take its first game of the fall.
The Mustangs (1-1), who struggled Tuesday in a season-opening 3-2 win over Sunlake, eventually pulled themselves together in the second game. Two aces by senior Daniele Green and a block and kill from Bailey Sassatelli helped Mitchell rally from a 15-11 hole to steal the second.
The Bulls mostly cruised after that. Olsen finished off the third with back-to-back kills — two of her match-high 14, to go with her five aces.
Her six-point flurry in the fourth helped Wiregrass take a 15-8 lead before the Mustangs made a final charge. They took advantage of Bulls mistakes, picked up a key ace from junior Emily Kerns and scored four consecutive points to tie the match at 24.
But the Bulls watched two Mitchell shots go errant on the final points to open 2013 with a victory.
“They’re a team,” Kantor said. “Every single one of them contributed something. Nobody gave up at all. They know what they had to do to put it together.”
Kaitlin Diehl chipped in eight kills for the Bulls, while teammate Teddi Wright added five.
Green led Mitchell with 10 kills, and sophomore Kayla Widera added seven.