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North Suncoast puts three teams into region finals // RIVER RIDGE

Fans of the Titusville High Terriers made themselves right at home in the River Ridge High gym with cries of "wolf, wolf, wolf" during a Class 5A, North Region I volleyball semifinal Monday.

So did the players they were rooting for in the second game when Titusville romped to a 15-3 victory to even the match at a game apiece.

"Woof, woof, woof," the fans yelled out as these dogs were having their day.

To Royal Knights fans, that was barking up the wrong tree. So they went for a walk, from one side of the bleachers to the other where River Ridge was about to take the court for the third game.

And with dogged determination, River Ridge came back. The Royal Knights sapped the Terriers' momentum by taking a 5-0 lead and held on to win 15-9. That, combined with the 15-12 victory in the long first game, gave River Ridge the match and a berth in the region championship Thursday.

River Ridge will visit Pensacola Pine Forest. Pine Forest defeated Jacksonville Fletcher 15-5, 15-10 in Monday's other semifinal.

River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare said it was the fans who made the difference.

"When the fans moved to our side it really got our girls pumped up," Castelamare said. "They came out with a lot of determination. And we really needed to take that 5-0 lead to get our confidence back."

And while Titusville (17-10) rallied to take a 7-6 lead and to forge an 8-8 tie, River Ridge was back in form after falling apart in the second game. The Knights (24-8) used a pair of service aces by Lundy Pixton to take a 13-9 lead. Titusville then hit long to make it 14-9.

The teams traded serves, then Autumn Lynch took over for River Ridge. Playing at the net on the outside, Lynch went up when the ball was set high at the net, hoping to block a Titusville spike attempt.

But no one went up to hit the ball, so Lynch reached over the net and tapped it with both hands into open court and River Ridge had won.

"I just went up there for the block," said Lynch, "but she wasn't there so I just tipped the ball back down on the court."

It was a play typical of the Knights and a far cry from their performance in the second game.

"We just had to get aggressive in that third game and play our game," Lynch said.

"We got defensive instead of attacking the ball," Castelamare said of the second game. "But in the third game the girls showed how much they wanted to win."

In the first game, Carla Imperatore's spiking and blocking helped stake River Ridge to a 14-10 lead before Titusville closed to within two points. But River Ridge won the serve back on an Imperatore spike and won the game when Titusville hit long.

Now River Ridge is one of eight teams left in the playoffs and is only one win from the state tournament.

"Getting to state is always in the back of your mind," Castelamare said. "We've won district and made it the region final. When you think about it, that's pretty good. Now, we have to win one more."

5A-II: Lakewood ousted

ST. PETERSBURG _ Lakewood's burst at the end of the season came up short as visiting Fort Myers held off the Spartans 11-15, 15-7, 15-11 Monday night to win a Class 5A, Region II South semifinal game.

The Spartans, who had upset Pinellas Park last week to advance to the regional match, continued to surprise many as they bounced back from deficits in the third game after the teams had split the first two.

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