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Defensive letdown costly for Spongers


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000

AUBURNDALE -- The cornerstone of Tarpon Springs' success this season was its ability to serve and pass off serve receive.

However, the strength of the Spongers' game didn't serve them well in a 10-15, 15-13, 2-15 loss to host Auburndale in the regional quarterfinals Tuesday.

"We played hard, but our serve receive just collapsed in the end," Tarpon Springs coach Monica Wilson said. "We're not a great offensive team, so we have to play defense and serve well. We did in spurts, but for the most we were flat tonight."

Down 10-5 in the first game, the Spongers rallied as Casey O'Toole had two service aces, Katherine Chapman recorded another and Erika Siauciunas had a kill to cut the deficit to 10-9.

The comeback fell short, though, as the Bloodhounds scored the final six points.

The second game started out like the first.

Tarpon Springs (12-14) fell behind 9-4 with no timeouts remaining when it stormed back. Heather Bubolo and O'Toole each served on three points to give the Spongers a 10-9 lead and the momentum they needed for the win.

After playing catch-up to tie the match, things caught up with Tarpon Springs in the third game. Auburndale had five aces and the Spongers scored two points, both on kills by O'Toole.

4A-3: Clearwater cruises

CLEARWATER -- For Halloween, Clearwater wanted to be a potent machine. The Tornadoes didn't have to pretend. Ranked No. 2 in Class 4A they steamrolled over Leto 15-1, 15-5 on their way to the Region 3 semifinals.

Junior Kelsey Baby led Clearwater with six kills on the night.

"We had a lot of people who played great," said first-year Tornado coach Lynn Hallmark. "We got a lot of people in the game that deserved to get some time. And they all came up with some big plays."

Hallmark and company are hoping to keep the regional championship, which they've won since 1995.

Kara Betroune served eight consecutive points down the stretch of the second game for Clearwater, while Katy Barber registered five kills and one block for the match.

A young Leto team is left to look to the future.

"This is the first volleyball state playoff for our school, and we'll all look ahead to other seasons remembering this season," said Leto coach Derek Stewart."It's our first banner. If you look around the gym you'll see that Clearwater has been there, and that's why they won tonight. Experience."

Jocelyn Glinton and Jennifer Roberson each had three kills for the Falcons.

Clearwater moves on to play Lemon Bay on Saturday in the regional semifinals.

- Eric Muskatevc

4A-3: Lakewood advances

TAMPA -- Lakewood (17-8) ended Tampa Bay Tech's first-ever playoff run with a 15-5, 9-15, 15-4 regional quarterfinal win at Tech.

The Titans (12-4) were a perfect 12-0 in district play this season and won their first district title, but Lakewood's serves were too much on Tuesday.

In the first game, Tiffany Hanna served six straight points to give the Spartans a 7-2 lead. With the score 13-4, Tech called timeout, and coach Nitta Omensetter had the team run wind sprints. Tech still lost the game, but the wakeup call helped it gain momentum in the second game.

On the service of Kristen Becker and the kills of Melissa Wiggins, Tech fought past the Spartans' 6-feet-1 middle hitter Roberta Perman to win the second game.

In the third game, however, Hanna's serves and Perman's blocks helped Lakewood to an 11-2 lead, and it never looked back. Tech staved off match point five times but could not hold off the inevitable.

This is the second consecutive year Lakewood has won a regional quarterfinal in Tampa. Last year, the Spartans beat Wharton before falling in the regional semifinals. For Tech, it has next year to look forward to.

"We have everyone back," Omensetter said.

Lakewood moves on to play host Baron Collier on Saturday in Naples.

- Jeremy Rasmussen

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