By Vinnie Portell, Sun Correspondent
NORTH PORT — Leading two sets to none against DeSoto County in the first match on its home court this season, the North Port volleyball team was on the verge of beginning the year 2-0 under first-year coach Chassity Taylor on Monday night.
But despite the formidable lead, the Bulldogs (2-0) rallied to win the next three sets and steal the win 3-2 (24-26, 27-29, 25-15, 25-19, 16-14).
Taylor said she thought her team grew too comfortable with the lead and lacked energy, which led to the late collapse.
“I think we got a little too relaxed, and as soon as that happened we beat ourselves,” she said. “There was a time in the third game where six out of their eight points were on our mistakes. So, that hurt us and it was tough to overcome.”
With just four seniors, the Bobcats worked several underclassmen into their lineup throughout the night. One of those players was sophomore Zoey Daniels, who contributed with three kills and a burst of energy for her team.
“My sophomore, Zoey Daniels stood out tonight,” Taylor said. “She’s usually the quiet one, and she came out and had some really good kills for us, I was really proud of her.”
Even with Daniels performance and senior Alexis Francavilla’s team-high 11 kills, Taylor said the Bobcats’ mental focus is what ultimately did them in.
After posting six errors in the first two sets, North Port committed 14 in sets three and four as it watched its lead unravel.
“In the first two games, they were talking and communicating, but in the third it kind of just fell to where they were making errors, and I think that’s what lost us the match was all those errors.”
Despite nearly winning the match in the fifth set, both Taylor and Daniels said the team needs to work on its attitude going forward if it wants to avoid meltdowns.
“We did play well as a team, but we had some attitude issues,” Daniels said. “We got down on ourselves. Not as a team, but individually we were hard on ourselves.”