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Royal Knights play poorly but still win

A week after defeating rival Hudson, the team doesn't "click'' in a 15-6, 15-4 victory over Tarpon Springs.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 5, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- In an effort that could be best described as workmanlike, with no frills and few thrills, River Ridge put away Tarpon Springs on Tuesday 15-6, 15-4 at the Jim Valentine Athletic Complex.

Though the Spongers proved to be pesky at times, they lacked the passing and setting to compete with River Ridge, foiling the bulk of their attack throughout the match.

River Ridge, meanwhile, did what it had to do and little more in improving to 4-0 on the season and 3-0 in Class 4A, District 8.

"That wasn't pretty," River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare said. "We just seemed to be waiting out there. We weren't hitting the ball real well. The passes weren't there, and the sets seemed to drift a little. We just didn't click tonight."

Only Dawn Conner seemed to match her performance from last week's dismantling of Hudson, which clearly established the Royal Knights as the district favorites. Conner had eight kills and 15 aces to lead River Ridge, and Rachel Osterholt added seven kills and three blocks.

River Ridge's best hitter, Ali Bigger, struggled but was hampered by illness. In the first game, after she misfired on consecutive kill attempts, she was replaced by Lisa Serra, who promptly served up two points and an ace to stretch River Ridge's lead to 13-5.

But symbolic of the night, the Royal Knights didn't put Tarpon Springs (3-2, 1-2) away. There were 12 sideouts and just one point was scored during the ensuing minutes. Finally, Serra served two points -- one on Conner's kill off a block and the game winner on an ace.

The second game started in similar fashion -- sloppy -- as Tarpon Springs fought to within 5-4. But Ashlee Brower's serving and three consecutive kills by Conner for sideouts swung momentum in the Royal Knights' favor as they scored the final 10 points. Bigger bounced back in Game 2 with a monster kill and block for the 13th and 14th points.

"I don't know what it was tonight," Conner said. "The passes were the worst. We played really well last week against Hudson, but I just felt as a team, we were just off."

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