On Thursday evening, the Weeki Wachee Hornets (3-13) upset the Nature Coast Tech Sharks (5-3) in three sets at the Shark Tank. The home team had been enjoying a strong start to the year and had already defeated the Green and Black in the season opener. The visitors were coming off a disappointing outing against the Citrus Hurricanes and had the chance for revenge, which they exacted in short order. Hornet’s volleyball head coach, Kelly Werkmeister, discussed why and where her squad has made improvements from Tuesday to Thursday’s matchup.
“They had a very good practice yesterday,” Coach Werkmeister said. “They worked very hard. With the game against Citrus, they knew that game was not one of the ones to let down on… they were kind of playing just down. Yesterday’s practice was just phenomenal. They worked very hard on their serve receive. It is getting better. The trust is there, and they just kept putting forth the effort and stuff and they didn’t give up tonight.”
To open the contest, the team in Columbia blue and black raced out to a 5-0 lead due to a few early mistakes by Weeki Wachee. The home team led by as much as eight points nearing the mid-point of the initial frame. Key scores by Juniors Addison Carpenter and Amanda Tirado helped the Sharks to a 13-5 lead before Carpenter served into the net. Another serve into the net by Senior Zadie Garofano and a miscommunication between the Sharks the play after appeared to be a hiccup on a surefire set one victory as they re-extended the lead to 16-8 soon after.
It was, in fact, an omen. From that point on, Coach Werkmeister’s squad outscored the home team 17-6 throughout the rest of the period. Early in the comeback, Freshman Marlee Schumacher scored four straight as part of a strong night that saw the freshman be credited with six aces, nine kills, 15 digs, and 18 received serves. Weeki Wachee’s head coach did not feel that she could “name one person” to point out on the night, though, due to everyone making key contributions. Junior MH Jadyn Aponte also logged two of her six kills and one of her four blocks for three of the team’s final five points to complete the unexpected 25-22 comeback. Sharks head coach, Emily Gore, felt that grasping victory from the jaws of defeat in the opening set was what gave the visitors the confidence to sweep her squad.
“I feel like the leads that we had in set one, I think we kind of blew an opportunity to go up 1-0,” Coach Gore said. “I think when Weeki fought back in that first set after being down, it just gave them a huge confidence boost, a lot of momentum. In set two, we were not able to come out and break that, take it back from them. So, you just got to give credit to Weeki Wachee.”
In the penultimate period, Weeki Wachee forced more Nature Coast mistakes and pulled away in the second half. The two teams drew even with each other for the fifth time in the second set at 10-10, but the Hornets took off afterward. Outscoring Nature Coast 15-7, it was a total team effort for the Green and Black. Set three went similarly to the first, but to a lesser degree. After trailing 11-7, Coach Werkmeister’s crew dug deep yet again. Schumacher continued to impress by registering multiple more kills. Senior OH/MH Dylan Elferdink showed out in this set, with the last of her ten total kills being used to end the set 25-22.
The Weeki Wachee coach wants her group to continue believing in themselves moving forward with a Tuesday showdown at the Hernando Leopards on deck. Nature Coast will hope to “get their mojo back” and “get into a better rhythm” when they host the Springstead Eagles on Tuesday night.