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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.
LITHIA - Freedom came into Tuesday's match at Newsome on a roll, having won its first five games to start the season undefeated.
Newsome, however, looked more like the team with the unblemished record once play began.
The Wolves (3-3) took control of the match from the opening serve and were never threatened in a thoroughly dominant 25-15, 25-16, 25-17 victory and important Class 5A, District 8 win.
"We needed a game like this," Newsome coach Julie Hiscock said. "This was only our second home game. I feel like we needed another home game to get into our rhythm."
Whatever rhythm Newsome was looking for, the Wolves found it and then some. Heather Alexander, who led the team with nine kills and four aces in the match, set the tone early by delivering several big spikes in the first game.
And Newsome won five-straight points off the serve of Kristen Khoury early to put some distance between itself and Freedom in that first game, and what would later prove to be the rest of the night.
"We weren't all on top of our game, but we pulled through," Newsome outside hitter Jenna Griffith said. "We had some rough spots, but we got the ball over when we had to. We pulled some scrappy plays out which really helped, but we're a scrappy school."
Once Newsome jumped out early, Freedom looked rattled and was unable to recover. The Patriots never led in Game 2 and held only a brief, early lead in Game 3.
"This was our second district game, and we really needed it to boost our confidence," said Griffith, who added four kills and two aces. "We were really bummed out about losing (the district opener) to Bloomingdale. Most of our team is seniors, so we really want to win our district."
Megan Malek recorded three solo blocks to go with three block assists, and Alex Greer added 24 digs for Newsome, pushing her past the century total for the season in only six matches.
IRC topples Terps
TAMPA - Indian Rocks Christian coach Mark Foster crumbled to the ground. Athletic director Phil Farver leapt in the air. And when Liz Schaner's kill landed on Tampa Prep's home court, the comeback was complete.
IRC came from two games down to defeat the Terrapins for the first time in school history 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-9.
"I guess you could say the monkey is off our shoulders," Foster said. "This is by far the best match I have ever coached in."
IRC looked timid in the first two games against a Tampa Prep program that has the second-most state championships (15) in Florida history.
Many of Tampa Prep's fans left after the Terrapins went up 2-0, but IRC was just getting warmed up. Schaner tipped over the winner in Game 3 and Liz Zeitler's kill to close out Game 4 evened the match.
By the time Game 5 came around, IRC's crowd outnumbered Terrapin fans . IRC stretched its lead to 12-6 in Game 5 after a pair of aces from Kenzie Reynolds and when Schaner's ball was deflected at the net and landed on the Terps' side, Golden Eagles fans stormed the court to celebrate.
"I was so happy I thought I was going to cry," Reynolds said.
Reynolds was outstanding, recording 11 of her match-high 21 kills in the final two games. The sophomore outside hitter also finished with four aces and played a part in several key defensive sequences.
In addition to making school history, IRC (9-0, 5-0) remained undefeated and moved a game ahead of Tampa Prep (4-2, 3-1) in the 2A-11 standings.
"(The Eagles) outworked us, outpassioned us and came in here with a fire in their belly," Tampa Prep coach Mike Flynn said. "IRC just kicked our butts tonight."