SEBRING - It was a great night to be a Blue Streaks fan.
Sebring won its first home volleyball match of the season in a sweep of rival Lake Placid, winning each set rather handily by scores of 25-17, 25-16, 25-17. The non-district match between the Class 5A Streaks and Class 4A Green Dragons came against the backdrop of a packed gym, filled with fans of both teams.
The win puts Sebring at 2-0 on the season overall, while Lake Placid fell to 1-1.
"Our girls are on a mission," said Sebring coach Venessa Sinness. "And I'm really enjoying watching them - and I think the fans are too."
The first set started off as a back-and-forth affair, as neither team could extend its lead to more than three points. Leading 10-7, however, Sebring went on a mini-run to take a 14-10 lead. Lake Placid coach Charlotte Bauder called a time out to let her team regroup, and the Green Dragons responded by scoring back-to-back points.
But Sebring was undeterred. The Blue Streaks bolted out to a 23-14 advantage, eventually holding on to win the opening set by eight points.
The second set saw more Sebring dominance, as the Blue Streaks opened up an early 17-4 lead. Down big, another time out from Bauder reorganized her troops, as the Green Dragons battled back on the strength of vicious kill shots from Bella Carabello and Breauna Corley to cut the deficit to 19-7.
"I tell them in the huddle, they can't give up on themselves," Bauder said.
When the Blue Streaks extended their lead to 20-9, it looked like the Dragons would slink away into an 0-2 hole. But once again, a big kill from Corley rejuvenated Lake Placid, and the team managed to claw back and make it 23-15.
But it was too little, too late, as the Dragons' comeback attempt eventually fell short.
In the final set, both teams gave a gritty performances. Battling to a 4-4 standstill, Sebring gained the upper hand thanks to its stellar play at the net. The Blue Streaks were able to take the lead and were up 14-11 before fans in the bleachers began shouting "LP! LP!"
The extra energy provided by the crowd appeared to help the Dragons somewhat, as Lake Placid cut Sebring's lead to 17-13. But the Blue Streaks were quick to silence the uproar by winning the next three points to take a decisive 20-13 lead.
Sparked by their hustle, the Green Dragons again made things interesting when they cut into Sebring's lead to make it 23-17. But that was as close as they got before Sebring's Cadie O'Hern shut the door on the Dragons' rally with a vicious spike.
"It was a bad night for the Green Dragons," Bauder said. "I have some girls who are sick and some girls who are injured, but that doesn't excuse our lack of teamwork and critical errors. They beat themselves tonight. I know this is not the same team that was here last week."
Despite her disappointment with her team's lack of cohesiveness, Bauder added that she's got high hopes for the rest of the season.
"Because we've had girls out, our practices haven't been as productive as they need to be," she said. "But it's still early in the season and we came off a really nice win over Okeechobee, so we're going to fight back from here."
Next up for Sebring is the South Fork Tournament, which only the varsity will play in, being held today in Stuart.
Lake Placid, meanwhile, will be off until Sept. 5, when the team has a road match scheduled against McKeel Academy.
Fans will have to wait a while for the rematch between the Streaks and Dragons, as the two teams won't meet again until Oct. 15 when Sebring travels to Lake Placid.