SEBRING — It doesn’t matter when the Sebring Blue Streaks and Lake Placid Green Dragons get together. Both teams want to win, but it was the Blue Streaks who came away with the victory in Thursday’s Preseason Classic at Sebring High School by a 25-21, 26-24, 20-25, 25-13 margin.
“It’s an emotional game against Sebring whether it’s preseason or not,” said Lake Placid coach Charlotte Bauder. “We always want to beat each other and it’s always fun competition.”
The Blue Streaks led throughout the first game, but never were able to put much distance between themselves and the Green Dragons.
“The whole night it was a matter of who was going to go more than three or four points ahead,” Bauder said. “It was neck-and-neck pretty much the whole game.”
The Blue Streaks led 23-19, only to see the Green Dragons pull within two, 23-21, on an ace by Mary Grace Bates. A hitting error on Lake Placid and a tip by Hannah Gotsch gave Sebring the 25-21 win.
The Green Dragons were in front throughout the second game and led 24-22 after a service error, but the Blue Streaks tied the match on an ace by Cadie O’ Hern and took the two-point win on a hitting error by Lake Placid.
The first game I played my seniors and they did their thing,” said Sebring coach Venessa Sinness. “The second game I played 5-1 with my little babies and they came through too. They were down and came back and that shows how much depth I have.”
The teams went back and forth in the third game, with Sebring erasing an 11-6 deficit to take an 18-15 lead, but the Green Dragons closed out the game on a 10-2 run to take a 25-20 victory.
The Blue Streaks could do no wrong at the start of the fourth game and led 19-4 before the Green Dragons made a bit of a run to pull within 10 before the Blue Streaks grabbed the 25-13 victory.
“The last game I think emotions got the best of everybody on our side,” Bauder said. “They were trying to do too many things at once and not worrying about one point at a time. That’s something that’s better to learn now than at the district championship.”
Sinness said her team lost focus after building a big lead, but she was pleased to see them regroup in a hurry and go on to take the victory.
Both teams showed improvement from the opening night of the tournament, which is all the coaches really wanted to see.
“I’m proud of the way they played,” Bauder said of her team. “Sebring always comes out hard for us and it was good to see what we have in preseason.”
Sinness said setters Kylie Bowers and Kiersten McSheffery played well during the match and showed they can both play either a 5-1 or 6-2 formation, which will be valuable during the season depending on the make-up of the opponent’s team.
She was also pleased with her front-line players, saying they took care of business and made positive strides.
“My hitters showed it didn’t matter who was setting for them, they were going to hit the ball,” she said. “I told them that we had to find our intensity and momentum and come together as a group and they responded well.”
The Green Dragons host Hardee on Monday, while the Blue Streaks travel to Okeechobee on Thursday.