published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
high schools sweep
By DAN HOEHNE
AVON PARK - Call it a moral victory, or a boost in their collective confidence, but Thursday's loss for the Lady Panthers did show some positives.
After dropping the first set to State College of Florida with a score somewhat typical of recent years, 25-14, things took a decided shift.
The visiting Manatees, a perennial Suncoast Conference power, came in with a 12-3 record, with two of those losses coming at an early season tournament in Iowa - a tourney that saw them go 3-2.
But in Thursday night's second set, not only was South Florida State College keeping up with the taller State squad, they took an early lead and kept it.
Each Manatee surge was held off with some strong defense at the net, scrambling volleys and decisive kills to push the Panthers to a 25-22 win.
It would seem that this turn of events would merely awaken the visiting squad to regroup and get back into dominant form.
And while they would take the final two sets, it was South Florida that seemed to take the proverbial step forward by sticking right with State College to the tune of dueling 25-18 scores.
"It's tough, not getting the (overall) wins," head coach Kim Crawford said. "But I'm seeing some good things and we are improving."
Results among the county high school teams were decidedly positive Thursday, as Avon Park, Lake Placid and Sebring all won their matches.
The Lady Devils swept past visiting Mulberry in three sets to bounce back from Tuesday's District 10-4A loss at DeSoto.
After a more Dr. Jekyll first set, which saw a narrow 25-20 win over the visiting Panthers, the Mr. Hyde aspect of the Devil's game was unleashed with 25-9 and 25-12 wins to finish it off in dominating fashion.
Teresa Devlin lead the kill parade for Avon Park with six, while Otisha Smith and Kayla Wilson added five each and Marina Torres had four.
The Devils, now 4-3 overall and 2-1 in District play, next face off with county and District rival Lake Placid on the road Tuesday.
Those Lady Dragons, though, seem to be rounding into shape with one of their better matches of the young season, sweeping Frostproof on the road by 25-15, 25-17 and 25-17 scores to move to 3-0 in District 10-4A.
"I was really proud of how everyone played," head coach Linette Wells said. "For a change, we didn't play down to our opponent and I was especially glad that for the first time this year, everyone got a chance to play."
The win was a nice bounce back from Tuesday's bitter loss at Sebring and would seem to have them set to welcome Avon Park on Tuesday.
The Lady Blue Streaks, meanwhile, continued their five-match winning streak with a four-set win over visiting Hardee.
Sebring hasn't lost a regular season contest, to date, with its' only losses having come in tournament play.
But now it's down to the nitty gritty for the Streaks as they head into their District 9-6A schedule with a Tuesday match at Kathleen and a home date Thursday with Winter Haven.
"Now we start the season," head coach Venessa Sinness said.
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