BRADENTON -- Between the second and third sets of Wednesday's Class 8A-Region 2 volleyball quarterfinal, Manatee coach Rachel Batey took her players outside.
She told them the match wasn't over, that the Hurricanes' first regional victory in six years was still within their grasp.
Batey was pleased with how they reacted, but it wasn't enough to get the Canes past Valrico Bloomingdale, which won 3-0 and advanced to Tuesday's semifinal against Palm Harbor University.
Manatee finishes 19-9.
"They finished great," Batey said. "I was really happy with how they finished."
Manatee fell 25-23 in Game 3, with the clinching kill coming courtesy of the Bulls' Karissa Rhoades, a 5-foot-11 junior who finished with 20 kills and 17 digs.
The Bulls won Game 1 25-22 and Game 2 25-14.
The Hurricanes owned their first lead of the night in the final game, going up 13-11 on consecutive kills by Jacqui Armer, before the Bulls, the runner-up out of District 3, rallied for four straight points and never relinquished the lead.
"We lost to a good team (Wednesday)," Batey said. "I think they'll do well in the playoffs, so I have all good things to say about them."
Bulls coach and Venice
alum Margeaux Sinibaldi said the team did its homework by scouting and game-planning for Manatee. But she threw all the credit to her players, including Chelsea Chavers, who finished with 15 digs.
"If you don't execute, it doesn't matter," said Sinibaldi, whose team improved to 18-10. "Those points we won on scrappy plays is what wins games.
"We wanted to win a district title. We didn't win a district title, but a regional championship is a little bit better than that."
Haley Coulter had 14 kills and Becca Butler had 11.
Armer had eight kills, while senior Kaitlyn Shaver had 13 assists and 10 digs, and Jessalyn Kinlaw had 14 assists and eight digs.
Coulter and Armer are sophomores and are two of the reasons Batey is excited about the Canes' future.
But she was happy with the present, too, especially because Manatee rallied to win a district championship this fall.
"I'm proud of my team for the season," Batey said, "and I just reassured them winning the district title for Manatee High is huge. I didn't want (Wednesday) to take away from that."