AVON PARK - Monday nights aren't just for football anymore.
Avon Park handed Hardee a resounding 3-1 loss in a nondistrict volleyball match on Monday, winning by scores of 25-15, 25-10, and 25-23.
"I was pretty pleased," Avon Park coach Shane Wirries said. "It was little quiet in here, though. We played a little flat, so we need to get ourselves boosted up on the court."
The Red Devils' stoic disposition could've been due to them looking ahead to tonight, when they'll travel to Lake Placid for a Class 4A, District 9 match at 7:30 p.m.
"It's going to be a big match," Wirries said. "We beat the Dragons in the preseason, but tonight's match is the first real, regular-season meeting."
"It's going to give us a good idea of who's going to win districts."
However, in the opening set against Hardee, Avon Park was anything but flat. The Devils jumped all over the Wildcats from the outset, and rolled to a 10 point victory.
The Wildcats rebounded in the second set, holding a lead for much of it. Up 17-10 over Avon Park, Hardee went on a 3-0 run punctuated by Bailey Carlton's ace. But in typical Red Devils fashion, the team clawed their way back into the set to make it 22-20.
A time out from Hardee coach Jeanne Myrie allowed her team to regroup, and the Wildcats held on for their only win of the match, downing Avon Park 25-21.
Paced by Brianna Rogue's exquisite serves, Avon Park jumped out to a an early 5-3 lead in the third set.
The Devils took control of the match from there, going on their biggest run of the evening, tallying nine straight points to take a commanding 14-3 lead. Hardee managed to interrupt the run some, but Avon Park continued to roll and led by as much as 15 points before extinguishing the Wildcats to go up 2-1.
"The girls' jump serves were looking really good," Wirries said. "We usually don't try those too often because they're such high-risk, high-reward, but tonight they worked well."
In the final set, Hardee burst out to a 7-3 lead despite a long delay to start the set as the officials discussed who should serve first for the Wildcats. Avon Park battled back to win the next four points and tie the set, and it remained tightly contested from there.
Knotted at 13, the Devils took control with a myriad of jump serves to go on a 5-0 run. But a Hardee time out, coupled with a few unforced serving errors from Avon Park, let the Wildcats back in the set.
With the Devils up by just two, 21-19, the two teams traded points until Avon Park held a 24-23 lead, where it held on after a long rally to clinch the set.
Wirries noted the inconsistent play in his team after the match.
"We need to communicate a little better," he said. "That's what I was so aggravated with them about. It's us making mistakes. We had some girls who were in a good spot, but then another girl would jump in - and I'm glad they're being aggressive - but you've got to talk out there."
Tonight's match against Lake Placid is just the first of four consecutive district matches for Avon Park. Following the meeting with the Green Dragons, the Devils will be on the road against McKeel Academy, then back home for Mulberry, and back on the road against Frostproof for their final match of September.