TAMPA — As much incentive as the district crown and a home match to start the region playoffs are, Sickles had even more heading into the Class 5A, District 9 championship match.
In their regular-season matchup a month ago, Freedom made quick work of Sickles, topping the Gryphons 3-0. Sickles returned the favor Thursday, posting a 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 sweep to earn the district crown.
Sickles (16-10), which earned its first district crown since 2007, hosts Charlotte on Wednesday. Freedom (13-8), making its first trip to regionals, will play at Venice.
“We’re excited to bring it home again,” said Sickles coach Rob Brashear, whose team is heading to regional play for the seventh straight season.
“We lost to them (Freedom) in the regular season and the girls were really ready to play tonight.”
After largely controlling the opening two games, Sickles struggled early in the third game. Freedom held a two-point advantage for the bulk of the game.
But after rallying to tie the score at 19, Sickles finished with a strong 6-2 run to close out the match. Outside hitter Brenna McTeer posted the last three kills of the match for the Gryphons.
McTeer finished with 13 kills while Lexi Thompson (nine) and Alexis Wilt (seven) had 16 kills collectively. Carlye Owens posted four aces, nine kills and 15 assists and libero Brittany Johnson had 13 digs.