OCALA — It was safe to say Central was focused against Ocala West Port in the District 5A-7 semifinals Tuesday night.
The top-seeded Bears (13-7) had lost to the fourth-seeded Wolf Pack (9-8) in five games late in the regular season, but with their first trip to the regional playoffs since 2006 on the line, they made the plays when they had to.
Central swept past West Port 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 and will turn its attention to Ocala Forest in the district final at 7 Thursday.
"I think the loss to West Port helped us tonight," Bears coach Emily Gore said. "We came in here knowing this wasn't going to be an easy match. We had to fight, but we have done that all year long. Nothing has been easy for us."
Central took advantage of 15 service errors by West Port, including two down the stretch in Game 1 that gave it the early lead.
"You can't make that many mistakes against a top-tier team like Central," West Port coach Mike Rasdall said.
Quynn Fonesca (15 digs, eight kills), Raqurra Ishmar (eight kills), Samantha Berberette (24 digs) and Carly Territo (15 assists, eight kills) led the way for the Bears.
After the opener, Central used a 9-1 run in Game 2 to grab the momentum then put together a 10-1 spurt in the finale before it held off a late charge by the Wolf Pack.
The Bears will take on Forest, which knocked off Springstead 18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18 in the other semifinal.
The Eagles (13-10), who earned their first winning season in 16 years, couldn't put away the Wildcats (15-10) and lost to the Marion County squad for the second time in three matches.