Orlando First Academy ends IRC's dream season

By BRANDON WRIGHT and Doug Kates
Published October 29, 2006

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It has been a record-setting season for Indian Rocks Christian. The Golden Eagles earned the program's first state ranking, won their first district title and made their inaugural trip to the postseason, beating Fort Myers Canterbury on Tuesday.

Saturday, however, brought an unwelcomed first. Orlando First Academy got hammered in Game 1 but rebounded to win the next three, knocking IRC out of the playoffs with a 15-25, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24 win.

"I told the girls after Game 1 that the long bus ride for (First Academy) had played a part," IRC coach Mark Foster said. "I told them to be ready."

Foster's words proved prophetic as First Academy (19-11) looked like a different team after Game 1. The Royals held on in Game 2, used a 5-1 run to close out Game 3 and Olivia Willats' tip fell harmlessly between four Eagles (24-6) in Game 4.

"After Game 1, I told the team we didn't have a single block against (IRC)," Royals coach Michele Moreman said. "Our blocking got better as the match went on and that, I think, was the difference."

IRC's attack found First Academy's front row difficult to penetrate. The Royals finished with nine blocks for points.

"Our middles didn't show up after Game 1," Foster said.

Sixty-four of First Academy's 76 points through the final three games came off IRC miscues. That, more than the loss, seemed to bother Foster.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm more frustrated," he said. "We're better than we played."

CLEARWATER - Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly says volleyball is one of the toughest sports to regain momentum.

Her Cougars (24-5) found out just how tough Saturday afternoon when they were eliminated from the region playoffs by Timber Creek (26-4).

Countryside used its home-court advantage to blast off to a 25-16 win in Game 1, but the Wolves won the next three games 25-19, 25-21, 25-22.

After a hard-hitting, accurate-serving first game, Countryside fell behind 4-3 in Game 2 and never led the rest of the match.

"I think we got a little cocky after the first game," sophomore Madison Truluck said. "We stopped fighting. We stopped playing with everything we had."

In the opening win, 16 of Countryside's 25 points came of its serve. In the three losses, offense was almost nonexistent. The Cougars won only five points serving in Game 2, seven points in Game 3 and only eight of 22 points in Game 4.

"We didn't play our best match and they know that," Bayly said. "We made a lot of unforced errors and serving errors, which are uncharacteristic of us."

Countryside didn't hit a single serve into the net in Game 1, but had 12 serves crash the net in the three losses.

"Countryside caught us off guard with how aggressive they were (in first game)," Timber Creek coach Allan Rubenstein said. "It was a real solid effort by our girls to kind of pull back together, regain the momentum and then run with it."

Truluck finished with 10 kills. Taylor Wilson and Danielle Biaso, both seniors, had five kills each.