© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Hoping her team would be less intimidated by hard-hitting River Ridge, Wesley Chapel coach Julie Marks went so far as to take her team out of the gym while the Knights went through hitting drills before Tuesday night's match.
Once the two teams were on the same court, however, there was little Marks could do to protect her team from its opponent as River Ridge cruised to a 15-5, 15-10 victory.
"They looked like they were scared out there," Marks said. "We saw them this weekend, so I don't know why they were so intimidated, but they were scared in that first game."
River Ridge, which won a nine-team tournament at Hillsborough Community College during the weekend, got a match-high eight kills from senior Dawn Conner. Junior Krystal Dennis added six kills and had three blocks in the second game, including the final point of the match.
"It was convincing for us, which was nice," Knights coach Heidi Castelamare said. "That's what we wanted to do. We've been playing a little up and down, and we came out tonight and played strong."
River Ridge (6-1) jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first game, which ended on twoConner kills. Wesley Chapel showed more resistance in the second game, rallying from a 5-0 deficit for a 9-5 lead, but that had more to do with hitting errors from River Ridge. Once the Knights regrouped, they ran off eight unanswered points on the way to the two-game sweep.
Castelamare's husband, John, is the Wildcats' head football coach, and by that familiarity she knew Tuesday was a match that meant a lot to Wesley Chapel, which has emerged as the top team on the east side of the county in the past two years.
"Wesley Chapel has been talking (about) us being the team to beat, that they had to play solid against us," said Castelamare, who said Tuesday's effort was her team's most consistent this season.
Wesley Chapel (4-2) played without starting left-side hitter Jennifer Robinson, who sprained her ankle in practice Monday and will be sidelined for about two weeks.
"She's a big blocker, so that kind of hurt us," said Marks, whose team was led by Angela Medvid's four kills. "The girl who went in for her (Lindsay Lucado) stepped up and did her best, but she's also about six inches shorter."
Wesley Chapel returns to action Thursday at home against Zephyrhills, while River Ridge is off until Tuesday, when the Knights travel to play Land O'Lakes.