Citrus and Lecanto _ the top two seeds, respectively _ advanced to the final of the Class 4A, District 6 volleyball tournament with victories Thursday night at Citrus High.
Top-seeded Citrus got by No. 4 South Sumter 15-9, 15-4; while No. 2 Lecanto came back from a first-game loss to beat No. 3 Crystal River 7-15, 15-9, 15-4.
Citrus (17-3) and Lecanto (14-8) will play in the final at 5 p.m. today at Citrus High, the third meeting of the season between the two intracounty rivals. Lecanto won both previous meetings, the only team other than Hernando High to beat the Hurricanes.
Against South Sumter, Citrus weathered sloppy play on both sides of the net. Ultimately, Citrus' 6-foot-4 senior Kristy White was too much for the Raiders (2-13).
Lecanto, meanwhile, struggled early against Crystal River, which ended the season at 9-10 after a 2-5 start.
The Pirates' late-season run included a late-season victory over the Panthers, and it appeared Crystal River was again headed for an upset. But Lecanto claimed a hard-fought second game and cruised in the third.
"The first game Crystal River just flat outplayed us," Lecanto coach Karen Boisvert said. "And they even outplayed us at the beginning of the second game."
Boisvert credited the back-row play of substitute Tiffany Clawson, a sophomore promoted from the junior varsity for the post-season, with turning the match around.
"I put Tiffany in for some quickness on the back line and she saved a few balls that we hadn't been saving," Boisvert said. "She gave us that little extra spark."
Lecanto scored the first 12 points of the third game to overwhelm the Pirates, who start four sophomores. The up-and-down effort was symbolic of the Pirates' entire season.
"One team showed up and played the beginning and another one finished it," Crystal River coach Trudee Reynolds said. "All season long, we've been hot and cold, hot and cold. And not between matches from one team to another, but we switch on and off in one match."
Still, Reynolds was pleased with her young team's season. Progress made from the beginning of the season, including a streak in which the Pirates won seven of eight matches, made Thursday's loss all the more painful.
"I am disappointed that we lost," she said, "but overall I am happy with the season."