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Lecanto, Citrus go to final

The top seed cruised to an easy victory. The No. 2 seed stumbled, fell, then regrouped well enough to earn a win.

In the end, it all worked out the way the seedings suggested it should.

Top-ranked Citrus and No. 2 Lecanto, both winners Wednesday night, will meet at 6 p.m. today in the Dunnellon Gymnasium to decide the Class 4A, District 7 tournament championship.

Citrus defeated Dunnellon 15-0, 15-1 in the final second-round match. Earlier, Lecanto held off unexpectedly tough Crystal River, eventually winning in three games 12-15, 15-13, 15-4.

The Hurricanes, who haven't lost a district match all season, barely worked up a sweat in its two games against the Tigers. Citrus coach Pat King said a recent change in the team's rotations has led to better serving efficiency and put players in the positions where they most like to serve.

The players say they are just focused on the task at hand.

"We're focused on playing good all the way through from here on out," junior outside hitter Diana Bierley said. "All the stuff we've learned throughout the season we're going to put it all together now."

Crystal River, which lost to Lecanto twice during the regular season, stunned the Panthers in the opening game and led 13-12 in the second game before Lecanto pulled out the win.

"We lost, but on a positive note," said Crystal River coach Trudee Foltz, whose team was 3-5 in district competition but loses only two seniors. "They were a lot more scrappy. They were up and down all season but once in a while, they would get a spark and it was there tonight. If we hadn't been so darn sluggish at the beginning of the third game, it could have been a different story."

After winning the first game, Crystal River jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the second game. Kate Jendro's ace started a 4-0 run that tied the game at seven. The teams tied again at 11, 12 and 13 before the Panthers won.

"I think we totally underestimated them," said Jendro, a senior outside hitter. "We came out thinking that since we crushed them the last two times we played that it would be easy. But this just shows that when we're down, we can all concentrate and do what we need to do."

Lecanto coach Karen Boisvert said the team has been distracted by the many events being held at school this week for homecoming.

"They were talking about homecoming before the game while they were warming up," Boisvert said. "I have five seniors so it's a major distraction. Ms. Lecanto (Jendro) is on my team and Maggie (Lamparelli) is escorting somebody in the Mr. Lecanto contest (Wednesday night). But I knew they'd come through."

Among those that came up big in the clutch was middle blocker Keri Wilson who recently moved up from the junior varsity team.

"Having Keri really helped us because we didn't have enough height before and she stuffed some tonight," Boisvert said. "She's the kind of player that's going to go for every ball and hustle on the court. Now we get to play at least two more games."