Regional Volleyball: Tarpon Springs Sends Winter Haven Out of Playoffs
Wed. November 09, 2011 at 3:29 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Winter Haven's Ashley Dills sends a spike over the net during the Class 6A regional semifinal match against Tarpon Springs on Tuesday night at Jack Deedrick Gymnasium. (Photo by PAUL CRATE | NYT REGIONAL MEDIA GROUP )
By MIKE FERGUSON
WINTER HAVEN | Winter Haven's hopes of a state championship were ended by Tarpon Springs with a 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 23-25 loss Tuesday night at Jack Deedrick Gymnasium.
Winter Haven got off to a fast start in the first game, taking an early 6-1 lead. Ali Mann opened the match with back-to-back aces for the Blue Devils.
Tarpon Springs would rally however and would actually take a 16-15 lead. The next five points would belong to Winter Haven. With the score 24-22, right side hitter, Jessica Dills' landed a kill between two Tarpon Springs' players to end the first game and give the Blue Devils an early advantage.
The quick start in the second game would belong to the Spongers as Tarpon Springs would hit a stretch in which it scored 10 of 11 points to take a commanding 17-7 lead.
Winter Haven was able to claw back to within five at 24-19, but that is where the rally ended. With the Blue Devils slowly gaining momentum, Mann's serve was hit into the net as the Spongers drew even with a 25-19 victory.
Game 3 stayed competitive throughout, but Winter Haven fizzled late as Tarpon Springs was able to capture a second straight 25-19 victory.
For the first 40 points of the third game, neither team led by more than two. But after a Katora Roberts kill cut the Tarpon Springs' lead to 20-19, the Spongers scored the final five points to take the game.
Tarpon Spring finished off Winter Haven in the fourth game.
The Spongers once again got off to a hot start, sending the Blue Devils into rally mode.
Trailing 10-8, Winter Haven head coach Tonya Wooten took a timeout when Ashley Dills hobbled to the sideline in pain. Dills returned to the court and helped lead a charge.
Down 22-17, Winter Haven appeared dead in the water, but Dills along with Roberts would not allow the Blue Devils to go quietly.
Roberts accounted for four of the next six Winter Haven points and fueled the Blue Devils as Winter Haven drew even at 23-23.
But after willing her team back to even, Roberts' following serve went into the net, leaving Winter Haven just one point from elimination. Tarpon Springs' middle hitter, Ashlyn MacGregor sealed Winter Haven's fate on the ensuing rally with a vicious spike to give the Spongers the 25-23 victory and the match.
Winter Haven (21-7) was led by Roberts and Dills, who finished with 16 and 15 kills respectively. Jessica Dills finished with six kills. Ashley Dills also accounted for five blocks while Roberts led the team with five spikes.
"It was win or go home and we wanted it and we worked hard until the last play and fought to the last point and that's all I can ask for," Wooten said. "We had a great season and I don't know what else to say."