VALRICO — Twice, Bloomingdale fell behind by at least five points late in games on Wednesday. Still, first-year Bulls volleyball coach Damian Goderich remained composed.
There was no screaming. No stomping of the feet. Goderich simply kept the faith, and his team practiced everything he preached. Bloomingdale served well, played superb defense and found the right spots to attack on offense.
More importantly, Goderich pushed every button but the one marked “panic”.
Carrying over the momentum from last week’s Class 6A, District 12 title, the Bulls made furious rallies in the first and third games of their region quarterfinal against Lakeland George Jenkins. Trailing 20-15 in the opening game, Bloomingdale stormed back to win 25-23.
After losing the second game 23-25, the Bulls were in danger of dropping the third. But they persevered, turning a 21-15 deficit into a 26-24 victory. By the fourth game, Bloomingdale simply wore down George Jenkins, winning 25-17 to take the match, 3-1.
“Our girls followed the game plan,” Goderich said. “They bent, but they didn’t break. And they continued to fight back.”
It was an uneven regular season. The third-seeded Bulls (14-10) would win one match, then lose another, never getting above .500. So Goderich started tinkering with the lineup to find the pieces that fit together.
“It’s like a game of chess,” Goderich said. “I had to figure out rotations and who could give me what. It’s working. Right now, they’re clicking.”
In the district tournament, Bloomingdale dominated, sweeping Tampa Bay Tech, Brandon and Hillsborough. Tuesday’s match was more of a test. The first three games were all decided by two points.
That the Bulls were able to win two of those to seize control of the match showed how much they had improved during their current four-match win streak.
Bloomingdale was led by Kamelia DeJesus (39 assists), Ellise Grizio (14 kills, three blocks), Eleanor Kosky (five kills, eight blocks), Sasha Miklavic (four service aces, 17 digs) and Shae Zugay (13 kills, 15 digs).
“The girls stayed poised,” Goderich said. “That’s what I kept preaching the past few days.”
The Bulls move on to play at No 2 St. Cloud on Tuesday.