By Chuck Ballaro Sun Correspondent
FORT MYERS — It was the standard script Tuesday night as North Port High School played Riverdale in the semi-finals of the District 8A-12 tournament.
North Port showed they could play with the Raiders in spurts, but would fall victim to that one big run that always did them in.
Riverdale had a huge night from senior Kylee Whiteleather as the Raiders easily disposed of the Bobcats 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-14) to end their season for the second consecutive year on Raider turf.
Whiteleather had 21 kills and 13 digs to lead No. 2 seed Riverdale (22-4), which will play at top-seeded Gulf Coast in the district finals on Thursday.
“It was not our best match, but we did play consistently. Our hitters did a nice job as did our setter,” said Riverdale coach Roni Hipp. “It was good enough to win our match. Kylee had trouble with serve receive, but she was very aggressive”
Riverdale started the first game with a 7-0 run that doomed the third-seeded Bobcats (7-13) almost immediately even though they hung in from that point forward.
The last two games featured runs of 14-1 and 11-2 that also broke open things early from which North Port could not recover even if they made the score respectable.
First-year North Port head coach Adrienne Moreno says it’s tough to stay in the game when teams pull those runs on you.
“We couldn’t get a side-out. We didn’t serve receive very well. That killed us,” Moreno said. “But we had good energy and it was a fun final game.”
Moving forward, North Port’s future looks good even with five seniors leaving. Alexis Francavilla, North Port’s best player is returning, and eight freshmen JV players will look to fill out the roster, Moreno said.
Moreno, 23, said she expects to be back next year a little wiser from the experience. After all, it was only six years ago she was a Bobcat herself under Becky Halbert, whom she replaced in May.
“It was a learning experience and so much fun to get to know all the girls. We’re pretty close in age, but they respect me and my assistant coach (former Port Charlotte star) Chassity Taylor (also 23),” Moreno said. “We have a great future.”
Amy Barley had five aces for Riverdale while Kacy Ogden had 12 digs.
Francavilla had eight kills for the Bobcats while Lindsey Matthews, Michaela Magnapera and Raychel Sipe each had six digs.