The Class 4A, District 6 volleyball tournament will be a Citrus County free-for-all, with local teams claiming the top three seeds in the five-team event that gets under way today at Citrus High.
But it's a case of peculiar parity.
Citrus High is the No. 1 seed, but is yet to beat No. 2 seed Lecanto, which split regular-season matches with No. 3 seed Crystal River, which took No. 1 seed Citrus to three games in the final week of the regular season.
"Anybody could win at any time," Lecanto coach Karen Boisvert said.
South Sumter and Dunnellon, the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds respectively, will play today at 6 p.m. Semifinal matches are scheduled for 5 and 7 p.m. Thursday; the championship at 5 p.m. Friday.
Who will be in the final to tangle with defending champion Citrus, a safe bet to make it past the South Sumter-Dunnellon winner, is as perplexing a question as who will still be alive for the Region III match next week.
"There's no way anybody is a shoo-in," Citrus coach Pat King said. "I don't think there is a favorite, though I know that's the fence-sitter's way to see it. My kids were talking about who they would prefer to play and I said, "Do not sit there and cheer profusely for either one. That just gives somebody incentive.'
Despite having beaten Citrus in both head-to-head meetings this season, Lecanto would be the underdog should the two meet in the championship match Friday.
"What was nice about beating them is that we know we can," Boisvert said. "But as far as I'm concerned, we're still the underdog against them. Citrus has got the big gun."
That would be 6-foot-4 senior Kristy White.
In the second match of the season between Citrus and Lecanto, the Hurricanes controlled play in the first game largely on White's play at the net. In the second and third games, Lecanto had success hitting away from White.
But beating Citrus is not the first of the Panthers' worries.
"We're trying to concentrate on getting to the finals, for one thing," Boisvert said.
Lecanto was fresh off its second victory of the season over Citrus, a three-game contest, when the Panthers fell the next night at Crystal River, a team that turned a 2-5 start into a 9-9 finish. The victory over the Panthers was the seventh in eight matches for Crystal River.
4A-6 volleyball tournament at a glance
Where: Citrus High, Inverness.
Who: Citrus, Crystal River, Lecanto, South Sumter, Dunnellon.
At stake: Winner advances to 4A-Region III match Tuesday.
Schedule: Today _ No. 4 South Sumter (1-18) vs. No. 5 Dunnellon (0-16), 6 p.m. Thursday _ No. 2 Lecanto (13-8) vs. No. 3 Crystal River (9-9), 5 p.m.; No. 1 Citrus (16-3) vs. South Sumter/Dunnellon winner, 7 p.m. Friday _ Championship match, 5 p.m.