Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Indians Finish in Second | Venice Falls to Winter Springs in Final; Manatee Goes 3-2, Finishes 13th

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Indians Finish in Second | Venice Falls to Winter Springs in Final; Manatee Goes 3-2, Finishes 13th

Article excerpt

HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: BATTLE AT THE BEACH

VENICE -- Brian Wheatley feels a whole lot better about his Venice High volleyball team than he did Thursday.

Competing in the inaugural Battle at the Beach Tournament on Friday and Saturday, the Indians went 4-1.

Venice won its first four matches before bowing to defending Class 7A state champion Winter Springs 25-20, 25-14 in the Gold Division to finish second overall.

Manatee, the other area team in the tournament, ended 3-2 and finished 13th overall.

"We definitely flipped the switch as a team," Wheatley said. "We played smooth. We played confident. We played very relaxed. We knew coming in if we didn't play tough, we could easily go 0-5 in this tournament."

The Indians defeated Middleburg, Community School of Naples and Boca Raton Pine Crest to win Pool C. They topped Pool B winner Miami Westminster Christian in the semifinal round.

In the final, Venice held a 20-19 lead in the first set of the best-of-3, before Winter Springs (21-2) scored six straight points on six kills, three by Bailey Johnson and two by Tournament MVP Payton Caffrey.

The second set was all Bears, 25-14.

"To finish in second place in this tournament is absolutely phenomenal," Wheatley said. "To go 4-1, we battled all weekend long. We had some kids step up and do a really nice job."

Outside hitters Hannah Richards and Tanner Gauthier were All- Tournament Team selections. Wheatley also mentioned sophomore middle hitter Kelly Hubbard, sophomore outside hitter Kaley Houston and junior outside hitter Allison Barber, along with setters Alicia LaMaida and Ashley Kot.

"We're all just really starting to play well together," Wheatley said. "They've realized you just have to roll the dice. When you hold back is when you don't play as well."

The defending Class 6A state champion Indians enter the final week of the regular season 14-9 with home matches remaining against Manatee on Tuesday and Cardinal Mooney on Wednesday. …

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