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PLANT CITY — In the moments between the fourth and fifth games Tuesday night, Durant coach Jeff Davis couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja vu.
Just like they did last year, the Cougars jumped out to a two-game lead against Newsome in the Class 5A, District 8 semifinals, but the Wolves stormed back to force a Game 5, just like they did en route to a state tournament appearance in 2009.
But Durant buckled down in the final game, opening with an 8-1 run to clinch a 25-19, 25-17, 24-26, 17-25, 15-5 victory, ensuring history would not repeat itself.
“I thought we just needed to forget about everything,” Davis said. “You just say, ‘At this point, it’s one game to 15. All the good, all the bad, whatever happened, it’s done. We’ve got to focus on playing this one game to 15.’ ”
Neither team that will compete for the 5A-8 title Thursday night made it to regionals last year, as Riverview locked up a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 1999 by sweeping Plant City 25-17, 25-23, 25-17. The matchup pitted first-year Sharks coach Kristin Grosso against her older sister, Raiders coach Kerri Ann Grosso.
“This is amazing. This is absolutely amazing,” Kristin Grosso said. “Granted, I had to play my sister, so it’s kind of a little bit of a drawback in a way; it’s not fun to play against your own sibling. But they fought hard.”
Durant, which went undefeated in district play, beat Riverview in three games in the teams’ first meeting. But, as Davis noted, Durant also swept Newsome during the regular season — and the rematch between the Cougars and Sharks should prove to be just as highly contested as Tuesday night’s five-set thriller.
“I think it’s going to be another tough match,” Davis said. “I’m expecting the same kind of a match Thursday. I’m just excited that we got through Newsome.”