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HomeLocal & StateLower Seeds Prevail in Beach Volleyball District Quarterfinals

Lower Seeds Prevail in Beach Volleyball District Quarterfinals

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SPRING HILL – Four county teams faced off across two matches on Tuesday and things didn’t exactly go according to form.

During the District 1A-16 beach volleyball quarterfinals on a sunny afternoon at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic, both lower-seeded Hernando and Weeki Wachee pulled off upsets of a county rival.

In the first set of quarterfinals, the fifth-seeded Leopards faced fourth-seeded Springstead in a clash that needed all five matches for Hernando to pull out a 3-2 victory.

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“These girls have busted their butts for weeks and weeks and weeks,” Hernando head coach Erin Sittig said. “Being our first season, they have grown tremendously as a team and I’m very proud of them.”

For the Leopards (5-5), Kaiya Ward and Brooke Hart defeated Emily Miller and Aubrie Gelm in the No. 1 matchup, 21-10, 21-19. At No. 3, Jessa Sittig and Maddie Guzik downed Paloma Verde and Kiersten Caamano, 21-23, 21-14, 15-12.

The final outcome, though, came down to the last pairings on the court, the No. 2 seeds. Bailey Poe and Katie Williams went three games with Rylynn Lanziero and Peri Doe, winning 21-14, 15-21, 16-14.

“First game we started off really strong, definitely did really good. In the second game I started making errors,” Williams said. “Then third set we had to lock in and pull through.”

“Errors got to us (in the second game). We lost, we had to go to a third set,” Poe said. “We just pulled through. We were behind, errors. It was neck-and-neck the whole game and then we just kept fishing.”

Hernando moved on to a semifinal on Thursday against top seed Carrollwood Day.
Springstead (4-4) got wins at No. 4 with Sylvia Hatfield and Mackenna Chambers beating Julianna Salvo and Emilee Santucci, 21-5, 21-14, and No. 5 as Taylor Lanziero and Arianna Brookins topped Paige Hill and Ryleigh Ramsey, 21-19, 21-18.

Hernando High’s Jessa Sittig elevates for a kill shot in a match versus Springstead in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Hernando High’s Jessa Sittig elevates for a kill shot in a match versus Springstead in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
“I couldn’t ask for anything more from these young girls. They left it all on the sand,” Springstead head coach Mike Lanziero said. “I think that’s the best season we’ve had in the four years we’ve had beach now. Young team, too. Two seniors, one junior, handful of sophomores, handful of freshmen. So the future looks bright… Just player development (is next), getting these young girls thinking about spots, seeing the court a little bit better. Finding those right spots where the girls are backing up, tipping it. If we have to do free balls, just making those girls work for every single point.”

Later in the afternoon, sixth-seeded Weeki Wachee surprised third-seeded Nature Coast, 3-2. In this one, though, the Hornets had already locked up the team victory before the final match was completed.

“It’s great because this has been a crazy season,” Weeki Wachee head coach Taylor Miller said. “Being able to finally get our first win in districts in kind of the right time to start moving forward.”

The result was particularly stunning because the Hornets came in just 1-12 and had lost both previous matches with the Sharks (7-6). They earned a spot in the semifinals on Thursday against Bishop McLaughlin.

“I think the girls as a team just having high energy and coming here with the expectation to win and playing hard throughout the whole time (made the difference),” Miller said. “I’m expecting a tough game (on Thursday) and hopefully we end up having a Cinderella story for the season.”

Dylan Elferdink and Reese Halter won at No. 1 for Weeki Wachee over Addison Carpenter and Amanda Tirado.

Isabel Shelby and Marlee Schumacher knocked off Ava Ferlita and Ava Pontrelli at No. 2, as did Aubrey Eastin and Anniston Proell against Shyla Felming and Adi Harmon at No. 3. All three matches were two-game sweeps.

The Sharks got their wins at No. 4, Gabby Hamann and Ashley Bretz over Paige Black and Kendyl Eastin in three games, and at No. 5, Taylor Grant and Sierra Kuykendall over Brenna LaRose and Sophia Watson in two games.

“Today is disappointing because you played them twice in the regular season and you got two wins against them. So, you felt like today should be a win,” Nature Coast head coach Emily Gore said. “But obviously it’s kind of a whole new season when you go into districts. So, you’ve got to bring your best and today was not our best. Hats off to Weeki, because they played very well today.”

Gore hopes there will be better times for the Sharks in the future. “Overall, it was a pretty good season. We had a solid win-loss record. I felt like we were kind of a young team,” Gore said. “Only two seniors and only one of those seniors was an actual returner who played last year. So, we’re pretty young. I could say we’ll return a lot of kids, but you just never know who’s going to come back and play next year. “Hopefully most of these girls will be back next year so we can build on this, because I think we’ve got a pretty good crew.”

Also on Tuesday, eighth-seeded Central dropped its quarterfinal against Carrollwood Day, 3-2. The Bears (0-10) lost at No. 1, 2 and 5, then won by forfeit at No. 2 and No. 4 as the Patriots declined to complete those matches with the overall team outcome decided.

“It was first season ever. We obviously started off very bumpy because we’ve been practicing indoor. We don’t have beach courts to even practice on,” Central head coach Maria Gebhardt said. “So, we did see lot of growth over the season. Went from losing 0-5 to losing 2-3, 1-4. So, we at least got some of our pairs winning matches… We’re very excited that we’re getting our own courts next year. So, we’ll be able to get more practices in, actually play outside. We’ll be the comeback story next year.”

Nature Coast Tech, Addison Carpenter tries to hit a shot past Weeki Wachee High’s Reese Halter during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Addison Carpenter tries to hit a shot past Weeki Wachee High’s Reese Halter during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Central High’s Dasha Prasalov goes all out for a dig attempt during a match with Carrolwood Day in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Central High’s Dasha Prasalov goes all out for a dig attempt during a match with Carrolwood Day in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Central High’s Dasha Prasalov concentrates on a volley during a match with Carrollwood Day in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Central High’s Dasha Prasalov concentrates on a volley during a match with Carrollwood Day in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Ada Harmon gets to a low volley in a match with Weeki Wachee High during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Ada Harmon gets to a low volley in a match with Weeki Wachee High during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Ada Harmon dives to save a volley in a match with Weeki Wachee High during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Ada Harmon dives to save a volley in a match with Weeki Wachee High during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Shyla Fleming handles a serve in a match with Weeki Wachee High during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Nature Coast Tech, Shyla Fleming handles a serve in a match with Weeki Wachee High during the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s Anniston Proell concentrates on returning a deep volley during a match with NCT in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s Anniston Proell concentrates on returning a deep volley during a match with NCT in the 1A District 16 quarterfinals held at Bishop McLaughlin High School. Photo by [Joseph DiCristofalo]

Chris Bernhardt
Chris Bernhardt
A resident of Spring Hill since 1986, Chris graduated from Springstead High in 1999 before moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida. In summer of 2003 he joined the staff at Hernando Today, working at the paper for 11 years as a sports reporter, the last three as sports coordinator in charge of the paper’s sports coverage. After an initial 3-year stint with Hernando Sun, he spent four years as a staff sports reporter at the Citrus County Chronicle. Follow on X @cpbernhardtjr.
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