River Ridge stays focused and earns the right to play Plant on Saturday in Sarasota.
By STEVE LEE
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000
NEW PORT RICHEY -- River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare feels her team is better than last year's.
The Knights proved her right with Tuesday's 15-10, 15-8 win over Seminole in their Class 5A, Region 3 quarterfinal.
"I knew once we got out of our district it would be a little easier," Castelamare said.
With the win the Knights (23-5) advance to the regional semifinal, one step further than last year's team. Saturday's match will be against Plant at Sarasota High.
Jen Dombrowski led River Ridge with three kills and seven blocks.
Her teammates, Ali Bigger and Brandi Young, each had six kills. Two of Bigger's kills came early in the second contest to help the Knights overcome a 3-0 deficit.
Young continued the rally with a smash in the middle of Seminole's defense that tied the score 4-4 off Bigger's serve. The point was one of three by Bigger that enabled River Ridge to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead.
Several mis-hits by River Ridge kept the Warhawks (12-7) close in the first contest, but the Knights did not panic, even when they trailed early in the second game.
"We don't shake much," Castelamare said.
"We missed some serves and had some hitting errors, but they did some different things that we hadn't seen like single-blocking in the middle."
Jen Hansen and Erin Hunington had some key blocks for Seminole.
CLEARWATER -- Reality intervened on the storybook ending for Ridgewood's six seniors and outgoing coach Marlyn Bavetta.
Reality in the form of No. 3-ranked Countryside, which pounded the Rams 15-10, 15-1 in a quarterfinal Tuesday.
Afterward, the Ridgewood (18-8) seniors -- Brandy Krieg, Chrissy Casanova, Mariah Wolfe, Alayna Sherwood, Tara Pagliaro and Jen Sessa -- and Bavetta stayed in the locker room for about 20 minutes. When they finally emerged, there were plenty of tears.
"Everything that could go wrong, went wrong," said Bavetta, who completed an 11-year stint as Rams coach. "We're a good serving team, but we didn't show it tonight. We're normally a good blocking team; we didn't show it tonight. And we're usually a good hitting team, but we didn't show it tonight.
"But that's okay. We played well this season."
After a hard-fought first game, in which Pagliaro and Krieg each registered five kills, the Rams came unglued. Bavetta called time out at 6-1 and 11-1 in game 2, but Ridgewood never regained its composure, and it was over in a flash.
"We didn't even have a chance to have a lapse. We didn't have a chance to go around the rotation," Bavetta said. "It was over so quickly."
Countryside (27-3) refused to give the Rams an opening, playing almost flawlessly from the outset.
"I think it's time to retire," Bavetta said. "Time to let the younger blood move in."
- Pete Young