HOLIDAY — Anclote coach Chris Vergnaud greeted anyone who passed him Wednesday with a high-five. His players, ringed around him, alternated between cheers and hugs.
The Sharks had defeated Tarpon Springs 25-18, 25-20, 25-11 to clinch their place in the district final.
Anclote kept the lead all but four times against the Spongers, who swept Sunlake this week.
Vergnaud said this victory comes after four years of trying to build a stronger program at Anclote, always with the playoffs in mind.
“We proved tonight that we will be there,” Vergnaud said.
The Sharks will face Fivay, which defeated Dunedin 25-22, 25-21, 25-15.
Anclote dominated in the first and third sets against Tarpon Springs, never trailing.
Tarpon pulled ahead three times in the second set because of Anclote errors. A kill sealed the Spongers’ fourth and final lead, but Anclote took it back with a kill by senior Nina Visic.
Fivay’s match against Dunedin was closer as the teams battled for leads throughout.
“It was a lot of tight games in the beginning,” Fivay coach Nikki Pollock said.
Fivay pulled ahead late in each set after a series of ties, scoring in streaks of kills.
Dunedin kept the lead for the majority of the first set, but Fivay pulled away after a tie at 20. Fivay’s Briannah Nemetz and Amber Lake each scored two kills, and Alli Hudson scored one to take the set.
The second set was closer, and three straight kills by Lake helped Fivay pull ahead again.
Dunedin kept the lead only briefly in the third set. The teams tied the score at 8, 9 and 10 before Fivay tore away with kills by Nemetz and Lake.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Fivay,” Vergnaud said. “We’ve been looking forward to seeing them for a rematch.”
Senior Aaliyah Anderson led Anclote with 13 kills, followed by Marissa Niedermeyer, who had eight.
Briannah Nemetz led Fivay with 23 kills. Ashleigh Nemetz had 11 and Lake had 10. Setter Jordyn Mattos had three kills and 48 assists.