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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.
CRYSTAL RIVER - Tears began streaming down their cheeks moments after the final point, but their eyes remained red minutes later.
Crystal River's dream season wasn't supposed to end like this. The Pirates weren't prepared to lose to St. Augustine Menendez, a team that didn't even win its district tournament.
But the Pirates' special season ended Wednesday night before a loud collection of parents, students and fans. Crystal River bounced back after losing the first game 26-28 by taking the next game 25-15, but then went down 12-25, 21-25.
"I just wish it hadn't ended," sophomore Brandy Worlton said. "I wish we could play all year long. It's over now."
The first game stung most because the Pirates (23-4) failed to capitalize on two potential winning points. They led 24-23 and 26-25 before losing when Worlton crossed the center line while attempting a kill.
Though it won the second game, Crystal River failed to take advantage of its momentum and the Falcons (20-7) easily won the match.
But this matchup with Menendez went better than Crystal River's last one, a fact the players readily acknowledged. In 2001, a much weaker Crystal River team lost 15-0, 15-2.
"We gave them a hard game," Worlton said. "I'm glad we showed them we're not a tiny town team that isn't any good."
Still, expectations were unusually high this postseason because the Pirates breezed through their district slate, winning all 12 regular-season matches and the district tournament.
Though coach Briget Boshell scheduled two competitive tournaments, she wondered whether more tough games might have made Menendez an easier foe.
"If we had seven losses to some really good teams, it would have been a different story," she said. "But I'm proud. It's awesome we're 24-4."
Every key player except senior libero Joy Henry returns next season.
"This is the beginning," Boshell said. "We're young and we got a taste of experience."