Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Venice Relies on 'Sophomority' | Seven Sophomores Lead Indians to 3- Set Win over Riverdale

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Venice Relies on 'Sophomority' | Seven Sophomores Lead Indians to 3- Set Win over Riverdale

Article excerpt

8A-3 VOLLEYBALL VENICE 3, RIVERDALE 0

VENICE -- Brooke Wheatley says she and the six other sophomores who have quickly made their arrival known at Venice High "like to at least think we overrule the seniors."

They've even coined a term for it: "Sophomority."

Perhaps they're kidding themselves -- for a little while longer, anyway, or until powerful senior outside hitter Tanner Gauthier stops smashing kills from virtually every angle. But the numbers Tuesday night were difficult to ignore.

Sure, Gauthier was dependable-as-usual with 17 kills and 13 digs. But it was "Sophomority" that helped the four-time state champion Indians (24-3) overcome a slow start and overpower visiting Fort Myers Riverdale 25-22, 25-11, 25-10 in an hour-long Class 8A-Region 3 quarterfinal at The Teepee.

Sena Szczepaniuk had eight digs and two aces, Tessa Bohn added seven digs and three aces, and Faulkner and Caitlin Montgomery each smashed three kills. Wheatley, the daughter of longtime head coach Brian Wheatley, served five aces, including three in a four-point stretch that padded Venice's second-set lead to 21-10.

All are 10th-graders.

"We've gone through so much already," Szczepaniuk said. "This is our club team, as well, this group of sophomores. We've played together for years, and because we have the coach's daughter with us, we've always been with (Brian Wheatley). We're just so used to everything by now."

The Indians, ranked No. 1 in Class 8A by MaxPreps, will host Manatee -- a five-set winner at Gulf Coast -- in the regional semifinals, scheduled for Friday. Venice beat the Hurricanes 25-23, 24-26, 17-25, 25-18, 15-10 last week, behind Gauthier's 28 kills, for its 15th consecutive district crown.

"I want my team to play with confidence, warm up with confidence and practice with confidence," said Wheatley, now 570-148 in 23 seasons on the bench. …

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