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Wildcats have been here before

Wesley Chapel faces the same team that eliminated it in last year's semifinal.

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 7, 2002

WESLEY CHAPEL -- What a year a difference has not made for Wesley Chapel, which again takes on Fort Myers Bishop Verot in a region semifinal.

The Wildcats, eliminated by the Vikings 15-1, 15-2 in the same round last year, play Bishop Verot (23-8) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Class 3A, Region 3 semifinal at Arcadia DeSoto County.

The winner takes on the Tampa Catholic-DeSoto County winner that night at 7 with the region finalist advancing to the Nov. 15 state semifinals.

Wesley Chapel coach Julie Marks predicted the Wildcats (19-6), ranked 10th in the 3A state poll, will fare better this time against third-ranked Bishop Verot, which graduated six seniors and starts three freshmen and three sophomores.

"It's not as nerve-wracking as last year," Marks said of returning to the region semifinal. "We know a little bit more what to expect. They are not going to send a lot of balls over (the net). They block and spike strong."

Could there be a revenge factor for the Wildcats?

"Of course you always want to beat the team that beat you so badly the year before," Marks said, "but it may be to our advantage because they may not take us so serious."

Marks should not count on that since Bishop Verot coach Chuck Waddington cited last year's region final loss to DeSoto County, a team the Vikings defeated twice during that season.

"There's no team we take lightly," he said.

Wesley Chapel, which beat Pasco Thursday for its third district title, is coming off Tuesday's 15-5, 6-15, 15-5 region quarterfinal win over Robinson.

Marks felt her team should have put forth a better effort against the Knights, something that will be needed against the Vikings.

"That's water under the bridge," she said of the Robinson contest. "Their performance wasn't up to their capabilities. They know it and I know it.

"We're going to have to be real aggressive (against Bishop Verot); go after the ball a little bit more than we do against teams from around here."

Brenna Lane, who had four kills against Robinson and has nine blocks in the past two games, is among the Wildcats rounding into postseason form.

Angela Medvid, the county leader with 47 aces, had three aces, four kills and eight assists against Robinson.

Tralisa Gant, a defensive specialist who averages more than 10 digs per game, and Lauren Valdez, who averages more than four kills a game, are also keys to the Wildcats' pursuit of a state berth.

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