The third time wasn’t the charm for Riverdale volleyball.
In the third matchup this season with Gulf Coast, the Raiders fell to the Sharks 25-12, 25-18, 25-18 in Thursday night’s District 8A-12 championship.
All was not lost for Riverdale (22-5), though. The Raiders will play at District 11 champion Venice at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a
“They’re another exceptional team in this region,” Riverdale coach Roni Hipp said. “All I can ask my kids to do is go and play hard, and we’ll see what happens.”
Gulf Coast (21-3), which swept the Raiders in both regular-season meetings, advanced to host District 11 runner-up Manatee on Tuesday.
“They’re pretty sound and pretty complete and a very good all-around team,” Hipp said of the Sharks.
This match was a replay of last year’s district title game.
Gulf Coast had 30 kills to just 10 for Riverdale, which is strong defensively. Senior Kylee Whiteleather led the Raiders with seven kills. No other Raider had more than one.
“She leads our team in kills and is second in digs,” Hipp said. “So she’s pretty important to our team.”
Gulf Coast surged to an 11-3 first-set lead and Riverdale never challenged.
“In that first set they played error free if you ask me,” Hipp said.
Riverdale bounced back in the second set, taking a 9-4 lead before falling 25-18. In the third set the Raiders were within 14-11 before the Sharks broke away.
“We played really hard,” Hipp said. “I couldn’t ask more from my team. They played hard the entire match.
“But (the Sharks) are an exceptional team.”