BRADENTON -- Bayshore had to find an identity quickly at the start of the year.
Head coach Nancy Cothron took the job about a month before the season began. Even closer to the start of the season, Jasmine Youngthunder joined the Bruins, giving them a versatile piece on their front line.
A little more than a month later, new-look BHS finished its district slate Tuesday at Bayshore High School gymnasium with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-17) win against Southeast, the team Cothron coached last season, to seal a second-place finish in Class 5A-11.
"I inherited a really good team," Cothron said. "And then we had some really good people walk in the door."
The Bruins (8-4, 4-1 5A-11) only finished behind Dunedin, which went unbeaten in district play. The district tournament begins Oct. 20 in Dunedin. The Seminoles (3-9, 2-3) can't finish any higher than fourth of six teams.
During its final district match of the regular season, BHS tinkered with its lineups midway through to turn narrow edges into runaway wins.
It's been a hallmark of Cothron's coaching this season and one of the changes Bayshore has had to grow accustomed to.
"Sometimes it gets confusing," said Ashlyn Davis, who led the team with 14 kills, "but a lot of times after we know where we're going it helps a lot."
After the Bruins pulled away to win the first set 25-15, they struggled to get separation from the Noles in the second. BHS trailed as late as 15-14 before Davis and Alexus Norman put Bayshore ahead for good.
Davis' kill knotted the set at 15-15 and stepped back to the service line. Norman
spiked home a kill to give the Bruins a lead on Davis' first serve and the senior followed it with an ace. Davis and Norman, who ended with eight kills, each added one more kill down the stretch to give BHS a commanding 2-0 lead.
During this stretch Cothron also switched Youngthunder out from a strictly setting role and let her contribute with her attacking. She logged a pair of kills during the set to go along with her game-high 14 assists.
"They've got to be used to a lot of change," Cothron said. "They're gonna get a couple points in a row against a certain lineup and we change the lineup or we change the rotation. We change the look. With her we're able to do that."
Outside hitter Marline Valcin, who recorded two kills during the second set for Southeast, finished with four kills, two aces, three digs and three blocks. Outside hitter Cheyenne Doeberl and setter Molly Perrson added five and six kills, respectively, and libero Ambriel Jones led the Seminoles with five digs.
By the final set Bayshore found a rhythm. The Bruins jumped out to a 5-1 lead and then a 15-6 edge after the Noles managed to even the frame at 6-6. BHS only recorded two kills and an ace during the 9-0 run, instead watching Southeast gift Bayshore six points by error.
The next change Cothron made was bringing in some of her reserves and sending Davis to the bench. The senior returned with the Bruins ahead 20-15 and gave BHS three straight kills to make the margin comfortable again.
"They're really jelling," Cothron said. "They're working hard in practice. They're working on the things I'm asking them to do."