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Preps

River Ridge in a breeze

In their final home match, the Royal Knights have no trouble dispatching Lakeland and moving on.

By FRANK PASTOR
Published October 29, 2004

NEW PORT RICHEY - Lakeland coach Crystal Ramsey leaned forward in her chair and implored her team to build on the momentum it created during the third game of its Class 5A region quarterfinal Thursday at River Ridge.

"Ladies, one point at a time," Ramsey said, her voice straining.

One by one, the Dreadnaughts ticked off points: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

And still, they trailed by four.

River Ridge put the match away much earlier, winning 25-7, 25-10, 25-16 in its final appearance of the season at the James Valentine Athletic Complex.

Making use of blocking and tipping adjustments they made a day earlier and taking advantage of numerous Lakeland hitting and passing errors, the Royal Knights (23-4) advanced to the region semifinals Tuesday at Sickles.

"We blocked pretty well tonight," River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare said. "I think we had more blocks than we've had in a long time."

River Ridge was wary of Lakeland's height and hitting ability after watching the Dreadnaughts (21-6) win the Lake Gibson tournament two weeks ago.

But, after allowing the first point in all three games, the Royal Knights stormed back with runs of 20-4 in the first game, 18-4 in the second and 8-3 in the third.

River Ridge showed great balance throughout the lineup.

Stephanie Seaman had nine

blocks and five kills, Tricia Thomas seven blocks and five kills, Kelly Bruce seven kills, and Tarah Bigger four kills, including three in the first set of rotations. Brittany Castelamare set the table with 22 assists.

"We came out really pumped," Seaman said. "We got together before the game, and we just had fun in this game. We tried to not get overworked up about it and just came out and played our game."

River Ridge moved within two wins of returning to the state final four for the second time in its history and first time since 1996.

From here on out, the Royal Knights will have to play away from home, where they have lost once in three seasons.

"It is hard traveling," Castelamare said, "but we're ready for the challenge."

[Last modified October 28, 2004, 23:50:16]


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