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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
That extra day rest didn't do Ileana Santos' gimpy left ankle or her Nature Coast teammates much good.
Midway through the second set against Orlando Bishop Moore, Santos gingerly backpedaled in pursuit of a ball she didn't get to fast enough. Score that as a point for the Hornets. Sharks coach Maria Garcia pulled Santos after that play. She scowled, left the court visibly upset, offering her teammate a despondent high-five and mumbled angry words.
It was that type of night for Nature Coast. The Sharks' season ended in a Bishop Moore sweep 25-19, 25-10, 25-21.
"We didn't do anything tonight," Santos said. "We didn't have that spirit to win."
Popular thought had this game as a mismatch from the onset. Bishop Moore (23-5) hardly ever lost this season, while Nature Coast (12-14) lost more than it won.
Sharks coach Maria Garcia said that when her team got out of the minivans and saw the Hornets, the girls got intimidated. The Hornets looked tall and strong.
"You don't see that in Hernando," Garcia said.
Bishop Moore had Ashley Winn, a high-jumping, hard-hitting senior possibly headed for to Syracuse, Duke, North Florida or one of the other schools recruiting her. Oh, and a bunch of other tall, athletic, skilled players that breezed through the game, such as Margaret Annis and Lindsay Giddings. Only the third set featured some back-and-forth action with Nature Coast keeping it close.
It seemed as if the Nature Coast players were convinced they weren't in Bishop Moore's league. Whenever a Hornets spike rocketed past one of the Sharks for a point, there wouldn't be much of a reaction. "I didn't think we were going to come all this way and go out like this," Santos said.
Before the third set, Nature Coast's bench was stoic and limp. Bishop Moore players were laughing and shaking their hips to the song blaring through the gym speakers.
It was MC Hammer's You Can't Touch This. The Hornets already knew.