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SAC volleyball race clears

The Sunshine Athletic Conference volleyball race has cleared up a little, but the new rule that only the last game played against each conference foe counts is keeping most of the teams in it.

Because the rule limits accountable conference games to seven, it is easy for two, three, or even four teams to end up with the same record. And since no tiebreaker will be used, it is possible but not probable there could be four co-champions.

Land O'Lakes (5-1 in the conference) could solve the problem by winning its final game at Gulf and wrapping up the title. The Buccaneers' only wins this season have come against Pasco, so the Gators have the inside track and it's smooth.

River Ridge was 4-1 and in line to at least tie for the crown, but Tuesday was shocked by Ridgewood and dropped to 4-2 along with Hudson and Zephyrhills.

Hudson lost a chance to get into the mix (and keep River Ridge and Zephyrhills alive) when it fell Tuesday night to Land O'Lakes 10-15, 15-1, 4-15. Zephyrhills was hoping for a Cobras win to set up a last-day showdown with them.

Now, everyone will be watching the Gators and praying for what would be the county's biggest upset of the season.

"Winning the conference would be nice for the girls that are here, especially the seniors, because they haven't really won anything by themselves," said Gators coach Jerry Stacy.

District volleyball looms

District volleyball tournaments get under way next week. The Class 4A-7 tourney will be held at Land O'Lakes High and will have some of the more intriguing matchups, with Hudson, Hernando, Zephyrhills and the host Gators having chances to win it. The 5A-7 tourney, with Ridgewood a long shot and Gulf a no-shot, will be at East Lake High.

Volleyball game of the week

It looked as if Land O'Lakes-Hudson was the lock here, but who expected Ridgewood to beat River Ridge?

Although it wasn't as shocking as, say, Central's win over Hernando two weeks ago, it was a surprise. Especially considering that Ridgewood setter Stephanie Pendland was lost for the season last week.

But the Rams regrouped and stunned the Royal Knights 15-11, 15-11.

"We took advantage of every situation," coach Maryln Bavetta said after her team improved to 7-9.

The loss took River Ridge out of the SAC chase. "That was too bad, because Heidi (Castelmare, the River Ridge coach) is one of my best friends," said Bavetta.

River Ridge Middle wins

River Ridge Middle School defeated Pineview 15-9, 15-4 Monday to clinch its fourth straight Pasco County Middle School Athletic Conference Championship.

A final record of 10-0 made a nice going-away gift for coach Dawn Uekerus, who is leaving to concentrate more fully on her duties as girls varsity basketball coach at the high school.

River Ridge was led by setters Ashlea Thomas and Julie Grassin, and hitters Stephanie Booth, Erin Pixton, Patti Jablon and Euslisse Munoz.

It was the third straight 10-0 season for the Knights. They are 39-1 in four seasons.

Uekerus finishes her volleyball career, which started at Hudson Middle School, with a 118-8 career record.

Gulf gearing for district swim

Both Gulf High swimming teams posted wins Tuesday evening at Central, and with district competition just a few weeks away, coach Linda Cassidy is keenly watching her team to decide which events they'll swim.

"I'm deciding what race to put them in for districts, and then we'll concentrate on refining for those races," she said.

The Bucs' times were unimpressive Tuesday despite the wins, but Cassidy attributed that to the fact they started in the water and not off blocks for the first time this season.

In the boys competition, the Bucs got by 88-81 with their depth. Dale Kilgore and Abe Stewart were the lone individual winners, and also swam on the winning 200 freestyle relay.

In the girls competition, a blowout at 117-42, the Bucs won every race but one. Jennifer Loveland was a multiple winner, capturing the 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly, and swimming on two winning relays, and Regina Jones won the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.