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Hernando High

Late push not enough for Hernando

Published:   |   Updated: October 29, 2013 at 10:48 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - Based on the final two games of Tuesday's Class 5A, Region II quarterfinal, host Hernando gave Anclote all it could handle.

Unfortunately for the Lady Leopards, they hadn't put up nearly as much fight in the opening two sets, and ultimately saw their season come to a close.

The Lady Sharks earned their first-ever regional victory, 25-6, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, to spoil Hernando's first home regional contest since 2004.

"The girls were nervous that first game, I expected that," Hernando head coach Robin Bailey said. "These girls have never been to this kind of match. But I'm pleased. We won one against a team that is very good.

"I just told them to relax and play our game. Stop trying to play other people's game, and enjoy it. If you don't enjoy this sport, then leave."

Anclote (22-7) had only one previous regional appearance to its credit, a loss at Nature Coast two years earlier, but showed plenty of poise at the start.

The Lady Leopards (17-6) managed just one point off their own serves, while the Lady Sharks tallied 11 kills in making a huge statement out of the gate.

Though Hernando showed a little more competitiveness in the second game, Anclote still built a quick lead and was never truly threatened, with Marissa Niedermeyer notching six of her match-high 18 kills.

Niedermeyer served six points, with four aces, midway through the third to open up a 13-6 advantage and the sweep seemed inevitable.

Then the Lady Leopards stunningly turned the tables, reeling off a 15-1 run, capped by 10 straight points with Sierra Cannon serving to put Hernando ahead 21-14.

Freshman Ali Bronson, the Lady Leopards' top hitter, had struggled over the first two games and was briefly benched in the second.

In the third, she had five kills and a block, responding to some stern words from Bailey.

"She said that I'm looking like I don't want to be here, and I told her I was trying," said Bronson, who finished with 10 kills. "She said that's not trying because I've seen you try before, and that I need to get over whatever I'm going through and I need to play for the team and stop acting like everything's about me.

"I thought I was being selfish and I had no clue what I was doing. It's my last freshman game. . I decided I want to show what I've got, don't end the season looking like I don't know how to play."

Hernando carried that momentum to a 7-3 edge in the fourth game, but Anclote slowly chipped away and went on top when Taja Maxwell served five points to make it 17-12.

Maxwell also had the kill that ended the match, though Niedermeyer and Aaliyah Anderson (11 kills) paved the way in the category.

Anclote head coach Chris Vergnaud blamed himself for tweaking the lineup in the third game.

"Mentally-wise, we're ready," Vergnaud said. "We're ready to be here, we're ready to be in these playoffs. It was just one of those things where my first lineup came out and we were on fire. I made some of those lineup changes in the middle and maybe that threw a couple of wrenches in our momentum.

"We're going to give teams a run for their money. That's just who we are, that's our nature. These girls won't quit, these girls will not roll over and let teams walk on them. You're going to see a fight and you're going to see a fight all the way to the very end."

The Lady Sharks earned a rematch of the 5A-District 8 final, which they lost to Fivay, in next Tuesday's semifinals.

Hernando now can only look toward next season, yet there was still pride in what was accomplished - such as the first district title in nine years - by a relatively young roster.

"This type of team, I feel like we used our talent to the best of our ability," Bronson said, "and we did way better than anybody ever expected."

(352) 544-5288

Anclote 3, Hernando 1

1 2 3 4

ANC 25 25 23 25

HER 6 16 25 21

Records - Anclote (22-7), Hernando (17-6).

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