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Sharks' future not set in stone

By DAVID MURPHY
Published October 26, 2006


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There were no salt-stained cheeks in the Orlando Bishop Moore gymnasium Tuesday night as Nature Coast's season came to an end with a three-game loss to the No. 9-ranked team in Class 4A.

No team enters a match expecting to lose, but the Sharks certainly realized it would take a USA vs. Russia circa 1980 performance to knock off a Hornets team that made it all the way to the state semifinals last year.

"I didn't expect us not to do good," senior Danielle Eckert said.

But in the end, the Sharks fell to a better team.

Still, coach Aixa Crespo said she was proud of the way her team played. After losing handily in the first two games, Nature Coast gave Bishop Moore everything it could handle, taking a 19-14 lead in the third game before falling 25-22.

"You didn't see them quit," Crespo said.

Now, the focus turns to next year.

This season was rocked by the mid-season departure of head coach Maria Garcia, who stepped down and gave way to Crespo. Crespo said she is unsure of whether she will return next season. First, she says, she must wait and hear from the school if it wants her back. Second, she must decide whether she wants herself back.

"I don't know yet," she said. "I have to think about it. This has been a tough year."

Much of Nature Coast's future will depend on the development of freshman Alex Livengood, who starred for the Sharks throughout. Crespo has said she still is figuring the young player out.

Indeed, against Bishop Moore, Livengood went long stretches of the match without getting an opportunity for a kill. When she was given opportunities, she shined, registering four aces in the third game.

Central season over: Central also registered a moral victory in its quarterfinal match-up. Facing a 16-1 Bloomingdale squad, the Bears took a 19-16 lead in the third game before falling 25-21.

"Our girls played a great match and I am proud of them," coach Vicki Weaver said. "We are losing a lot of seniors this year, but our younger girls played so well, I am confident we will make it back into the regional playoffs next season."

Times correspondent Terry Jones contributed to this report. Times staff writer David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or 352 848-1407.

[Last modified October 26, 2006, 06:55:30]


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