BRADENTON -- As Game 4 of Tuesday’s Class 7A-District 11 semifinal rolled on and on and on, it didn’t take a mind reader to know what was going inside of each coach’s head.
Manatee’s Ken Deterding loved his team chances in a Game 5.
Punta Gorda Charlotte’s Michelle Dill didn’t want any part of a Game 5.
Ultimately, Dill and the Tarpons got their wish, beating the Hurricanes 3-1 -- 25-14, 22-25, 25-19, 28-26 -- to reach Thursday’s final against top-seeded Venice.
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The Canes (19-7) battled, and nearly forced a decisive game when a Charlotte hitting error gave them a 26-25 lead. But the Tarpons rattled off three straight points, winning the game when Jenny D’Alessandro’s kill bounced into the back left corner of the court.
“We still think the game is individuals, and it never is. We have play six against six, helping each other out,” Deterding said. “And I don’t think we’ve figured that out yet. I think that’s our weakest skill, because when we’re playing, we can kill you.”
Manatee showed such pluck in Game 2 and in Game 4, as well. The Canes trailed 18-13 during the latter before kills by Rachel Drummey, Danielle Deterding and Rebecca Butler helped trim the deficit to 18-17.
And when the Tarpons (23-3) took a 25-24 lead, Butler’s kill squared it, and the Tarpons’ aforementioned miscue gave Manatee a lead. But Charlotte’s Katie McCarthy came up with a huge block, giving the ball -- and the momentum -- back to the Tarpons.
“I really wanted to end it in the fourth. I did not want to go to a fifth game. We’ve only gone to one (match) in five this year, and that was against Venice. And we lost,” Dill said. “I really wanted them to push at the end and win those last two points, and I’m proud of them.”
Abbie Condie had 16 kills and JaNea Beisner had 10 for the Tarpons.
Deterding pleaded for his team to be mentally tougher throughout this season, adding that was the Canes’ chief culprit Tuesday against the Tarpons, who they beat in four in Bradenton during the regular season.
“We’ve been working on it,” he said. “They haven’t figured it out yet...I think the individual game itself -- touching balls, setting -- is the easy part. It’s always the easy part. We have to figure out how to be tough.”
Butler had 11 kills and 14 digs, Allie Clements had eight kills and 10 digs and Drummey had seven kills and 12 digs for the Canes, who also got 26 assists from Kayla Armer. All four players are expected back next year for Manatee, which had one senior (Ashley Ogedegbe) on the roster.
“We’re young, we can figure it out, but that’s what we need to learn,” Ken Deterding said. “We have the skills to beat anybody if we get tough enough.”
SOUTHEAST 3, BAYSHORE 1 -- The third-seeded Seminoles knocked off the second-seeded Bruins 25-19, 19-25, 25-16, 25-12 in the finals of the Class 5A-District 12 tournament at Bayshore.
Southeast (7-19), which won its first district title last season, heads to top-seeded St. Petersburg Lakewood for Thursday’s championship match.
Brittane’ Hunter had a big night, tallying eight blocks, 10 kills, eight digs and three aces. Tessa Bartges, who had been out with a back injury, made a big splash with 14 digs, eight kills and seven aces.
“She was on fire serving (Tuesday),” said coach Nancy Cothron.
Alex Pendleton had nine kills and two aces, and Tessa’s sister, Emma, had eight kills, five digs and three aces.
By winning Tuesday, the Seminoles advance to the Class 5A-Region 3 tournament, which gets under way next Tuesday. Southeast will be at home if it wins the district title and will travel if the Noles lose.
VENICE 3, BRADEN RIVER 1 -- The host Pirates took a game off the top-seeded and perennially powerful Indians before falling 25-12, 25-16, 21-25, 25-22.
“I told our girls, ‘We had nothing to lose in this game,’” said Matt McElhiney, who wrapped his first year as the Pirates’ head coach. “They played well.”
Brittany Jaco had a huge night, with 29 digs and 24 kills, and Courtney McDevitt had 22 assists and nine kills for Braden River (16-9).
“The fourth game, a couple of bounces didn’t go our way. A point here or there, and anything can happen in a fifth game,” McElhiney said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team with the way they played.”
SEMINOLE OSCEOLA 3, PALMETTO 0 -- The third-seeded Tigers fell on the road in the semifinals of the Class 6A-District 12 tournament, losing by scores of 25-18, 25-11, 25-16.
Second seeded Osecola hosts Lakewood Ranch in Thursday’s final.