LAND O'LAKES — The one-hour trip from Pinellas County is long and boring.
None of the girls from Lakeside Christian or Canterbury seemed to mind having to come back once more after winning Class A, District 9 semifinal matches Tuesday. Both teams secured spots in the Class A state tournament with the focus shifting to Thursday's match for the district title and homecourt advantage to begin the playoffs.
A young Lakeside team made up of freshmen and sophomores earned the upset of the night edging out host Academy at the Lakes 23-25, 25-15, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10. Canterbury cruised over Citrus Park 25-16, 25-11, 25-7.
"This is (Academy's) home gym," Lakeside coach Becky McCarthy said. "We had already lost twice to them during the regular season. Finally, they believed in themselves and now we're going to regionals and that's all we care about."
The Lions overcame a Game 1 collapse, allowing the Wildcats to storm back for the win after trailing 12-2 at one point. AATL went on a 20-9 scoring run to take the lead and hold on for the victory.
The Lions won the next two before falling 25-20 to force a fifth game. And in Game 5, Lakeside broke out to a 6-0 lead, which proved to be plenty of cushion.
In the second match, Canterbury cruised to an easy win that made coach John Milkovich smile throughout. The Crusaders had swept every regular-season match in the district and are the defending champions.