Dixie County tops Newberry for district title

Dixie County celebrated its five-set win over Newberry for the 1A District 7 championship on Thursday.
Dixie County celebrated its five-set win over Newberry for the 1A District 7 championship on Thursday. (Photo by C.J. Gish)

Momentum swings like a pendulum and on Thursday night, Dixie County (Cross City) had a little extra gas in its tank to erase a 9-3 fifth set deficit to win 16-14 and claim the 1A District 7 championship.

The Bears (12-12), coming off a district and regional championship in 2021, won the district title over Newberry, 18-25, 25-23, 25-20, 19-25, 16-14.

Dixie County's Anna Ellison and Newberry's Evalyn Guild battle at net on Thursday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Dixie County’s Anna Ellison and Newberry’s Evalyn Guild battle at the net on Thursday.

“Our word is believe,” Dixie County first-year coach James Bendel Jr. said. “We believe in each other. We’re going to fight to the end and our belief in our abilities will take us to the end and hopefully, that will give us a long march into the playoffs. That was our first step.”

In the first set, Newberry (11-15) took control early breaking a 5-5 tie and capitalized on eight service aces to outscore the Bears 20-13 for the win. Mckenzie Moses had back-to-back aces followed by a Dixie County serve out of bounds to score the final three points.

The second set was closer. Dixie County went up 18-12 before Newberry tied at 19-19. From there, the lead either changed or was tied eight times in the final few points as the Panthers went ahead 23-22 before the Bears scored the final three points. The set-winning point saw the ball get hit by Dixie County into a rolled-up gym divider net at midcourt and play paused until the Bears snagged the deciding point due to Newberry having an illegal player substitution.  

Get The Latest News

Don't miss our top stories every weekday in your inbox.

“(In the first set) the energy was there and (Dixie County) took it from us,” Newberry coach Hank Rone said.

For Dixie County, the key was at the service line.

“Our serve receive got much better (after first set), our blocking got more disciplined, our serving got much better,” Bendel said. “We missed like five serves in the first set and then after that, we lessened our mistakes.”

In the third set, the Bears jumped to a 14-5 lead and never allowed Newberry to get closer than four points after that en route to a 25-20 win.

Newberry's Sarah Watson with a hit against Dixie County's Paris Williams on Thursday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Sarah Watson with a hit against Dixie County’s Paris Williams on Thursday.

Trailing 15-9 in the fourth set, the Panthers recaptured their spark from the first set to outscore Dixie County 16-4 and force the fifth and deciding set.

“I give the girls credit,” Rone said. “They could have laid down in the fourth set and they didn’t and we were behind by six points and they fought their butts off and they came back and dominated the rest of that set and went into five.”

Newberry used its newfound momentum and raced to a 9-3 fifth-set lead before Dixie County clawed its way back into the contest and tied it at 9-9. The Panthers led 14-11 before Dixie County scored the final five points behind two Paris Williams kills and three Newberry hitting errors.

“When you have a lead and you just can’t finish it, that’s what we’ve been working so hard on (this season),” Rone said. “That’s been the story of our season. We’ve probably lost more sets by two points than any team in this state. Tonight, we lost 25-23 in (the second set) and 16-14. It’s a young team, we’re only losing three seniors, so hopefully the underclassmen will learn from this and come back and be even stronger next year. But I am proud of them, they fought hard.”

Bendel credited a group of players that stood out to him in the match.

“I’d like to thank all five of my seniors for showing up tonight and playing their hearts out,” he said.

Regional seeding will be determined on Sunday.

Dixie County's Jaidyn Brown with a hit against Newberry's Alexis Boyd (10) and Chloe Jones (2)
Photo by C.J. Gish Dixie County’s Jaidyn Brown with a hit against Newberry’s Alexis Boyd (10) and Chloe Jones (2)

Class 1A-District 6 – at Bell High School  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 5 Lafayette (Mayo) 3, No. 4 Fort White 1  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 1 Branford 3, No. 5 Lafayette (Mayo) 0  

No. 2 Union County (Lake Butler) 3, No. 3 Bell 0  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 2 Union County (Lake Butler) 3, No. 1 Branford 1

   

Class 1A-District 7 – at Trenton High School  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 5 Trenton 3, No. 4 Cedar Key 0  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 2 Dixie County (Cross City) 3, No. 3 Chiefland 0  

No. 1 Newberry 3, No. 5 Trenton 1  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 2 Dixie County (Cross City) 3, No. 1 Newberry 2
   

Class 1A-District 8 – at Williston High School  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 5 Bronson, 3, No. 4 Hawthorne 0  

  

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 2 Glades Day (Belle Glade) 3, No. 3 Wildwood 0  

No. 1 Williston 3, No. 5 Bronson 0  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 2 Glades Day (Belle Glade) 3, No. 1 Williston 0 

   

Class 2A-District 4 – at Oak Hall School (Semifinals & Championship)  

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Quarterfinals) – at Higher seed  

No. 4 St. Francis Catholic Academy 3, No. 5 Florida School for the Deaf & Blind (St. Augustine) 0  

No. 3 St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) 3, No. 6 Peniel Baptist Academy (Palatka) 0  

   

Wednesday, Oct. 19 (Semifinals)  

No. 1 Oak Hall School 3, No. 4 St. Francis Catholic Academy 0  

No. 2 Countryside Christian 3, No. 3 St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) 0  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 1 Oak Hall 3, No. 2 Countryside Christian 0

   

Class 3A-District 3 – at Palatka High School (Semifinals & Championship)  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals) – at Higher Seed  

No. 5 Bradford (Starke) 3, No. 4 Taylor County (Perry) 0  

No. 3 Crescent City 3, No. 6 Interlachen 0  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 5 Bradford (Starke) 3, No. 1 Palatka 0  

No. 2 P.K. Yonge 3, No. 3 Crescent City 0  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 2 P.K. Yonge 3, No. 5 Bradford (Starke) 0 

   

Class 4A-District 2 – at Higher Seed  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 4 Godby (Tallahassee) 3, No. 5 Gadsden County (Havana) 0  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 2 Wakulla (Crawfordville) 3, No. 3 Suwannee (Live Oak) 0  

   

Class 4A-District 4 – at Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville)   

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 4 Keystone Heights 3, No. 5 Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine) 1  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 1 Bolles 3, No. 4 Keystone Heights 0  

   

Class 4A-District 5 – at Santa Fe High School (Alachua)  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 4 Dunnellon 3, No. 5 Eastside 1  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 2 North Marion (Citra) 3, No. 3 Crystal River 0  

No. 1 Santa Fe (Alachua) 3, No. 4 Dunnellon 0  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 1 Santa Fe (Alachua) 3, No. 2 North Marion (Citra) 0

   

Class 5A-District 2 – at Lincoln (Tallahassee) (Semifinals & Championship)  

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 2 Vanguard (Ocala) 3, No. 3 Columbia (Lake City) 0  

   

Class 6A-District 4 – at Higher Seed  

Monday, Oct. 17 (Quarterfinals)  

No. 4 Forest (Ocala) 3, No. 5 Matanzas (Palm Coast) 0  

   

Tuesday, Oct. 18 (Semifinals)  

No. 2 Gainesville 3, No. 3 Buchholz 0  

No. 1 New Smyrna Beach 3, No. 4 Forest (Ocala) 0  

   

Thursday, Oct. 20 (Championship)  

No. 1 New Smyrna Beach 3, No. 2 Gainesville 1

Enjoying our local sports coverage? Get Mike Ridaught's twice weekly sports newsletter in your inbox.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments