TARPON SPRINGS – In a tight and hard-fought match, Tarpon Springs outlasted Sebring in four sets in Tuesday night’s Class 6A-Region 3 finals.
Sebring, which finished the season at 23-6, put up a great fight and never gave up, but the Blue Streaks came up short against the Spongers by scores of 19-25, 19-25, 28-26 and 19-25.
“These are two great volleyball teams,” said Sebring Coach Venessa Sinness. “I commend my girls because they did awesome. We pushed, we did not quit, I cannot be more thankful and proud of them. They all did great and I have no complaints.”
In the first set, the Blue Streaks came out hot jumping to a 6-3 lead with a three-point run by Ashley Bible. Bible also contributed 9 kills for the night.
Sebring built its lead to 13-9 until the Spongers’ Gabriella Kennedy went on a seven-point run to claim a 17-14 lead for the Spongers.
The Blue Streaks tied the game at 17, but the Spongers reclaimed the lead with a three-point run by Anya Reinhard. Tarpon Springs got the final points need to take set one by a score of 25-19.
It was neck-and-neck in set two with Sebring and Tarpon Springs battling for control. The Blue Streaks started off strong building their lead to 10-7. Sebring’s Jordan Sinness had an outstanding 29 assists and 17 digs for the night while sister Jade Sinness contributed 7 kills, 16 digs and a block.
The Spongers tied the game at 11 and 13 and pulled ahead at 18-16. After several long volleys and a few questionable calls, Tarpon Springs won the second set 25-19.
“It made me fell good to help my team,” said Sebring’s Johneisha Rowe. “I feel like we could have come back if we would have established the middle. Overall I think we could have done better if we played like we did when we played Robinson. I am proud of myself because I have gotten a lot better and I led my team in the middle. We were a small team that kept playing bigger teams and we did what we had to do to get our points even though the teams were bigger. We played with all our hearts this season.”
Sebring was down but not out as they rallied in set three. Tarpon Springs jumped to an 8-1 lead.
Sebring rallied to come within a point with a couple of three-point runs from Allie Cannady and Jade Sinness closing the deficit to 9-8. The Blue Streaks tied the game at 12, 19, 22, and 23. The score was 26-25 with the Spongers in the lead when Emily Bible stepped back to the line and served a three-point run that clinched the victory for Sebring by a final score of 28-26. Emily Bible added an impressive 36 digs for Sebring.
The fourth and final set was like the others where the Blue Streaks stayed with the Spongers. Sebring trailed Tarpon Springs 5-4 until Sebring’s Jade Sinness made a two-point run shoving the Blue Streaks into 7-5 lead.
Tarpon Springs answered back with four-point run by Mackenzie Dufresne reclaiming the lead at 10-7. The Spongers moved ahead with three and four-point runs. The Blue Streaks were unable to rally and lost 25-19.
“In the end it came down to who could play out of system volleyball better,” Coach Sinness said. “They dug the ball more times than we did and they knew what to do. They knew how to keep digging and we kept swinging. We did what we could to mix it up but that is part of the game. Our team has nothing to hang their heads about. Tarpon Springs is a great team that knows how to play out-of-system ball and they have really good hitters that are consistent, but that fourth set we kind of got down. We are going to live and die by our serve-receive because of our size.”