EAST MANATEE -- Venice's volleyball team came into Braden River's gymnasium Thursday and left with a 3-0 win.
But Braden River head coach Matt McElhiney was able to take solace in this: "We made Venice work for their points (Thursday)."
That wasn't enough for the Pirates to win Thursday's Class 7A-District 10 match. But it was enough to please McElhiney, whose Pirates are 10-6 overall and 2-2 in the district.
"(Thursday) was the first night all season long where we had all six players who were on the court, including the girls on the bench coming off, doing their jobs completely," he said. "I can definitely take a positive out of this. In years past, we played Venice and you get beat (in three), and you're on the bus in under an hour and on the way home. As young as we are, they didn't show any fear."
The Indians (14-2, 4-0), ranked 24th in the nation by MaxPreps, used a series of runs to win each game. They snapped a 12-12 tie in Game 1 by scoring 13 of the game's final 18 points and went on a 9-1 run to take a 16-7 lead in Game 2. Venice didn't waste any time in the finale, scoring nine of the game's first 10 points to clinch a 25-19 win.
"We let some runs in the beginning in the middle and beginning of those games," McElhiney said. "But we closed every game out on a run."
The Indians recorded 10 aces and got 12 digs from Taylor Jais and 10 from Danika Yoder, who added 35 assists. Holly Mattmuller had 14 kills and 17 digs.
"I thought defensively we were outstanding," Venice coach Brian Wheatley said. "We served tough and very consistent. We're a good serve-pass team, and that's important to take it to the next level, without a doubt."
Courtney McDevitt had a big night for Braden River, totaling 13 kills, 16 digs and two aces, while Demi-Shay Watchorn had 22 assists and 16 digs.
Sienna Kelly added 12 kills and 11 digs for the Pirates, who play Bayshore, Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton Christian during pool play of the county tournament, which begins Friday at Southeast.
"It wasn't like we were committing errors -- (Venice) was earning their points. And every time out I said, 'They earning them, that's what we want, we're forcing them to work,'" McElhiney said. "I couldn't be happier with the girls."