The Ida Baker Bulldogs were unable to match the multiple-point service runs and the powerful attack at the net by the Riverdale Raiders in the semifinals of the District 6A-13 Tournament Tuesday night at Riverdale.
The consequence of that was a 25-20, 25-15, 25-10 defeat that sent the Bulldogs on a long, somber ride back to Cape Coral.
In the beginning, the Bulldogs seemed ready to knock off the No. 2-seeded Raiders for the first time this season. They played close matches before, but after the Bulldogs claimed a 5-2 lead in the opening game, the Raiders went on a 13-1 run to take a 14-6 advantage they never relinquished.
The Bulldogs, who finish with a school-best record of 16-8, only led twice in the match - early in the first and third games.
The Bulldogs chipped away at their first big deficit to close within 19-18, but the Raiders responded to win game one.
"We played with a lot of heart tonight," said Bulldogs coach Renee Van Horn. "We were capable of coming from behind and we never give up."
There was no comeback by the Bulldogs in the middle game after trailing 10-2. They just were never able to put together a service run of more than three points while the Raiders scores point after point after point with the same server.
The Raiders relied on sophomore Chenelle Walker at the net. Walker finished with a game-high 15 kills and three stuff blocks. Junior Cindy Moyer added seven kills and junior Courtney Schopke six kills.
The Bulldogs' second and final lead of the match came at 3-2 in the third game. That's when Kristen Poole served four straight points to push the Raiders into a 7-3 lead. After several sideouts, the Bulldogs closed within 10-9, but that is as close as they would get.
Tiffani Charles stepped to the service line and ran off 12 consecutive points to put the Raiders ahead 23-9. The Bulldogs mishit three serve receives, volleyed long or into the net three times and were guilty of a net violation twice during the run.
"It would have been a different game with Payton (Van Horn) tonight," Renee Van Horn said of the Bulldogs' injured outside hitter. "The girls that stepped in for us gave me what they had to give and I am proud of them for that. It's just unfortunate. I told the girls that we were leaving the district too early."
A trio of seniors led the Bulldogs attack, topped by Louie Ross with six kills and Brenna Hambsch and Whitney Bennett adding four apiece. Senior Madison Kobs was credited with 12 assists.
The Raiders play for the district championship Thursday night on their home court against top-seeded Fort Myers, which disposed of South Fort Myers 25-15, 25-4, 25-11 in the other semifinal match.
District 5A-13: Top-seeded North Fort Myers eliminated Cape Coral Tuesday night 25-15, 25-4, 25-11 in the semifinal round at Lemon Bay.
"We did not play great, made some sloppy passes, but Susie McKeever did a good job of getting the ball back to the front row tonight," said Red Knights coach Jeremy Ridgeo.
The Red Knights were led by Miranda Ashby with 12 kills and seven digs, and Jessica Wagner with 11 kills. McKeever handed out 24 assists to go with 13 digs.
The Red Knights (18-4) play for the district championship at 7 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the semifinal between Cypress Lake and host Lemon Bay.
District 3A-11: Top seed Evangelical Christian advanced to Thursday's championship game with a 3-0 victory Tuesday night over C.S. Naples. Canterbury was not as fortunate, falling 3-0 to No. 2 seed Seacrest.
Region 1A-6: Oasis junior Gina Falvey shot 84 Tuesday in Naples at The Hideout to finish sixth individually, but did not qualify for the State Class A Finals.
Community School of Naples and Lemon Bay teams qualified for the state tourney with a 1-2 finish. Seacrest's Emma Bradley (76) and St. John Neumann's Jenna Tuccio (78) were 1-2 individually to earn a trip to the finals.