CLEARWATER — There was an air of inevitability to the Class 5A, District 11 championship match. The bracket was set up for it. Fans wanted it. Players expected it.
And they all got the final they wanted.
A championship matchup between Clearwater and East Lake, anticipated since the season began, became a reality when both teams won semifinals Wednesday.
The county powers will meet at 7 Friday night at Clearwater.
The Tornadoes, the No. 2 seed, advanced by beating Tarpon Springs 25-20, 25-17, 25-17. It was the third time this season Clearwater (19-7) swept the Spongers.
“Tarpon Springs has a lot of talent and they’re getting better,” Tornadoes coach Kara Betourne said. “I felt like we played well, but it was a tough match.”
Betourne praised the play of setter Kahley Patrick, who distributed the ball well. The biggest benefactor of Patrick’s crisp passes was Jen Opper, who controlled the middle.
In the second semifinal, the top-seeded Eagles swept Seminole for the fourth time this season, 25-14, 25-16, 25-15.
East Lake (23-2) was led by Brittnay Estes (10 kills) and Jackie Wegner (eight kills, seven aces).
“This was a tuneup for us,” Eagles coach Terry Small said. “We wanted to stay focused and not look past anything.”
The showdown Friday marks the fifth time East Lake and Clearwater have met this season.
The Eagles have won all four with the first match going five games and the last three each ending in three, including last week’s Pinellas County Athletic Conference semifinal.
“We all hoped to get to this point and play each other again,” Betourne said. “We know what we have to do.”