Big schools are no big deal
By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
Seven Rivers Christian has been playing the role of David this week, knocking off Goliaths right and left.
The Class A program took out 3A Hernando and 4A Central to improve its record to 5-0.
First-year Warriors coach Scott Lyons said his team has the potential to do great things. "I don't feel as though either (match) was an upset, knowing what I know about our team," Lyons said. "Our girls just played well and played the way they are capable of playing."
What's more amazing is that the squad is comprised of a seventh-grader, an eighth-grader, a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior.
Danielle Albury, a senior standout setter/middle hitter, said Seven Rivers was aware of host Central's tradition.
"We went out there and knew they were a bigger school than anyone we've played yet," Albury said. "Watching them warm up, we hadn't seen any hitters like that, and overall knew they had a really good program."
Albury said her team was intimidated. It showed as the Warriors were down 8-0 in the first game before fighting back in a 15-11 loss.
Seven Rivers took the next two, including an 18-16 victory in the decisive game. Neither squad led by more than two points in the final showdown.
"Throughout this whole season, we can go back to this and say it was a tough road (match), we were dead on the floor 8-0, and we came back and beat them," Lyons said. "We showed we belonged on the floor."
Sophomore Alice Zeiss had 27 assists and 13 kills to lead the Warriors.
Lyons applauded the serving of seventh-grader Rachel Capra, who played at the fifth- and sixth-grade level last year. Eighth-grader Taylor Cooke, brought up to the varsity this week, saw action against the Bears.
Central coach Jim Jensen said the Bears respect Seven Rivers, and that he can see the teams developing a healthy rivalry.
"Am I surprised? No," Jensen said of the Warriors. "I knew going in they were going to be a decent team. That's why I scheduled them. "They've got a good thing going, and I'm excited for them," he said. "We were the gracious hosts, too nice, I think."
Seven Rivers had an easier time with Hernando on Monday, winning 15-7, 15-10.
"Against Hernando, we weren't quite as intimidated because they didn't come out looking quite as strong," said Albury, who racked up 18 kills in the match.
"They were more of a smart team. They knew where to put it, but they weren't such hard hitters."
Lyons said the Warriors' offense has enabled them to change to a faster tempo. Playing two tough matches helped Seven Rivers Christian prepare for Friday's meeting with Class A district opponent Pinecastle Christian, ranked third in the state last season.
But before battling Pinecastle, the Warriors face Hernando Christian tonight. Lyons expects another strong showing and to be in position to substitute players. "Hopefully what we can do is play how we know we can play," Albury said.
"We find ourselves going down to the level of competition and we don't mean to do that but we do."
-- Kristen Leigh Porter can be reached at 564-3628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111