By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — It took losing a set for the Bobcats to wake up Wednesday night.
After hanging on to win the first set, North Port dropped the second to Port Charlotte but never trailed throughout the third or fourth, defeating the Pirates 26-24, 20-25, 25-11, 25-14 in their own gym.
Alexis Francavilla led the way for North Port with 16 kills and seven blocks, helping the Bobcats end a three-game losing streak. Abby Hutchinson also had 11 kills for the Bobcats while Summer Fisher, Samantha Tennant and Michaela Magnapera each had six.
Magnapera also was crucial on serves, delivering six aces.
“In the first two sets I felt like we were a little low on communication and energy, but we had a lot more in those last two,” North Port coach Adrienne Moreno said. “When we have energy, we play good and pound the other team.”
North Port (4-3) jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the opening set and later led 24-18 before Port Charlotte (2-7) went on a furious run. The Pirates scored six straight to tie the frame at 24, thanks to two kills by Celia Baermann, but a kill by Lindsey Miller followed by a Port Charlotte error handed the first set to North Port.
Port Charlotte wasn’t fazed going into the second set, though, instead carrying on the momentum it built from the first. The Pirates and Bobcats went back and forth throughout the set, with neither team leading by more than three points until the end when Port Charlotte scored the final four to take the set 25-20.
But the ship sunk for the Pirates from there as the Bobcats jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the third set and never trailed again in the match.
“We just have a tendency to be roller coaster kids,” Port Charlotte coach Christine Burkhart said. “It’s funny because they play their best volleyball and then they’re under the gun and they just have to play with instinct and that’s when they play well. When they’re kind of flat and thinking too much about things, they make mistakes. I told them we have to start strong from the very beginning and push all the way through. It’s a work in progress.”
Kiersten Tisdale led the Pirates with 11 kills while Zoe Bukrhart had a team-high 16 digs.