Bradenton Christian rolls in volleyball district semifinals

jlembo@bradenton.comOctober 22, 2013 

SARASOTA -- Allen James had to be honest: He's never quite sure which Bradenton Christian volleyball team is going to show up on a given night.

So heading into Monday's Class 3A-District 10 quarterfinal, Allen, the Panthers' head coach, was a little concerned that his girls would glance past Imagine School of North Port, especially since BCS rolled past the Sharks during two regular-season matches.

Less than an hour later, James was all smiles. And his girls were headed to tonight's semifinal after beating Imagine School 3-0 at tournament host Out-of-Door Academy.

The fourth-seeded Panthers (9-15) head back to ODA for Tuesday's 5 p.m. semifinal against Cardinal Mooney, the tournament's No. 1 seed.

"I was a little worried we'd look past these guys," said James, "and look at Mooney."

Didn't happen.

Instead, BCS beat the Sharks 25-11, 25-19, 25-4.

The Panthers only encountered one serious challenge, and that was midway through Game 2, when Imagine knotted the game at 15.

But BCS pulled away and carried that momentum into Game 3, when the Panthers strung together 16 straight points to take a 19-1 lead.

Savannah Shontere, who was on the service line for BCS' big run in Game 3, finished with nine aces.

Haley Waldo had 12 assists, Abbie James chipped in with 10 kills, Hannah Leahy had four kills and Katie Swaagman added a pair of blocks and four kills for the Panthers.

BCS can now look toward the Cougars, who swept the Panthers twice during the regular season. Their last meeting was Oct.3, with Mooney winning 25-17, 25-21, 25-19.

"We played them pretty well the last time," James said. "When you play against Mooney, you have to play soft. And Mooney plays a fast offense, and we're not a very fast team, so they hit on our weaknesses."

And James said he will try the underdog angle on his girls. "You do what you have to do," he said with a smile.

Tuesday's winner advances to Thursday's District 10 title final as well as next week's regional tournament. Second-seeded Out-of-Door Academy plays third-seeded Saint Stephen's at 7 p.m. Tuesday during the tournament's other semifinal.

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