The Bradenton Gladiators entered last Saturday's Florida Football Alliance NFC Championship game facing a familiar opponent.
The Orlando Rage ran past Bradenton in two regular season meetings, and were the Gladiators opposition with a berth in Alliance Bowl VI on the line.
But like the previous two contests, the Glads couldn't best Orlando.
The Rage edged Bradenton 28-24 and advances to the Alliance Bowl against the Magic City Bulls in less than two weeks.
The 24 points scored were the most Bradenton scored against the Rage all season.
Orlando, who won the division title over the Gladiators, and the Bulls are the No. 1 seeds from their respective conferences.
Bradenton, which moved heralded wide receiver Jeff Charlton to defensive back this season in an effort to improve an already stingy defense, heads to the offseason still searching for the elusive Alliance Bowl championship.
Last year, the Gladiators lost in the title game.
Spiking to nationals
14-and-younger Rox Black team recently captured a bid to the USA Volleyball Girls Junior Nationals.
The club based in Manatee County did so by taking second out of 57 teams at the 2013 Florida ASICS Girls Junior Regional Qualifier held in Orlando.
The national tournament is scheduled for June 28-July 5 in Dallas.
Coastline advanced to the final in the gold bracket, but the Rox squad fell to Miriam, based out of Jacksonville, in three games.
After winning the first game 25-17, Coastline Rox dropped game two 25-18 and the decisive third game 15-11.
DAWGS end season
The Bradenton BEACH DAWGS completed its USSSA 11-and-younger spring league season this past week.
The 11-and-younger team went 2-2, beating the Southwest Florida TiGators 6-5 and the 10-and-younger DAWGS 13-4.
Top performers included: Corbin Holmes-Blackstone (5-for-9, five stolen bases, double, triple, five runs), Luke Williams (5-for-11, four RBIs, four stolen bases, double), AJ Thompson (4-for-9, double, two triples, four RBIs), Jack Evans (6-for-10, four RBIs, two stolen bases) and Calvin Sauerbeck (3-for-7).
Thompson also tossed six innings with 10 strike outs and a win.
On the 10-and-younger side, the club went 1-3 against older competition.
Logan O'Leary (4-for-10, five RBIs), Lucas Hartman (5-for-11, two doubles, two triples, two RBIs) and Aaron Deegan (6-for-11, two home runs, four RBIs, four runs) led the offense.
Hartman (5 1/3 innings pitched, seven strikeouts) and Cam Bender (four innings, win) led the pitching staff.
Hartman was selected for All-Star play, which is in Clearwater on Saturday, while Wil Clem and O'Leary were nominated.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Dill.