Hurricanes wake up in time

Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 12:11 a.m.
Confidence is a dangerous thing. When you have it, you feel unbeatable, like everybody else is going to have to climb a ladder to even gaze at the bottoms of your shoes. And make no mistake, there's never been a championship team that didn't believe in itself.
Overconfidence also is a dangerous thing.
That's when you look down that ladder, watching your foe climb. And no matter how high they reach, you still think their hands won't even get close enough to tie your laces. But sometimes, that foe reaches and surpasses you, and in those unexpected situations you end up looking only like the foolish hare wondering how the heavy-shelled tortoise got ahold of that shiny trophy.
The Gainesville High School volleyball team learned a bit about overconfidence Thursday night. But fortunately for the Hurricanes, they learned quickly and rebounded to defeat upstart Middleburg 11-15, 15-10, 15-11 to capture the District 5-4A title for the third straight year.
"I think we came in thinking it would be pretty easy," junior outside hitter Bailey Williams said. "(The Broncos) made us wake up."
When the match opened with Middleburg (16-14) jumping out to an easy 5-0 advantage, those on the east side of the court looked like GHS players, acted like GHS players, but played like Halloween-celebrating imposters in purple uniforms.
"Maybe (they were) our grandparents," sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers said with a laugh.
The Hurricanes (26-4), participants in five consecutive final fours, rebounded to even the score at 11, but the Broncos got four consecutive service points from Stephanie Bradley to close the game.
That's when GHS coach Cindy Boulware said her "big hitters" (Williams, Bowers and Michelle Stalbaum) began to elevate their play, combining for 12 service points, as the Hurricanes never trailed in the second.
Middleburg led the early part of the third when a kill by Bowers off a serve by Williams made the score 6-6. Williams followed with an ace and GHS either led or was tied the rest of the way.
In all, the trio combined for 32 kills (13 each by Williams and Bowers), 30 digs (17 by Williams) and 33 service points (16 by Williams) - nine of which were aces (six by Stalbaum).
"It was good to have this type of match to prepare us for regionals and state," Stalbaum said. "Middleburg has a great team. We beat them in the district and regional finals last year. We may have to do that again."
First, GHS must get by the loser of the Ocala Forest-Ocala Vanguard match in the regional quarterfinals next Tuesday at home. The Broncos will visit the winner of the Forest-Vanguard match.
"Middleburg is well-coached and run a lot of multiple offenses," Hurricanes' coach Cindy Boulware said. "They made us work out there. And we have some fixing we need to do in some areas, defense and blocking, in particular. But hopefully, we can get those problems corrected and play as well as we can the rest of the way."
You can reach John Patton by calling 374-5074 or by e-mail at John can be heard every Thursday from 5-6 p.m. on the Beef O'Brady's High School Sports Report on AM 1430, The Team.

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