Undefeated Lecanto cruised past visiting Crystal River in the first game Wednesday night and jumped out to an 11-7 lead in the second game, prompting Panthers coach Karen Dickson to take out star outside hitter Jill Bandhauer so as not risk an injury.
As soon as Bandhauer sat down, Crystal River got back up. The Pirates scored three consecutive points as Lecanto fell apart.
Bandhauer returned, but the Pirates continued their smooth sailing, running off eight consecutive points to steal the second game 15-11. However, Bandhauer led the Panthers in the final game, helping them to a 15-7, 11-15, 15-7 win.
"We definitely knew we had to step it up in that third game. We weren't totally focused from the start," said Bandhauer, who finished with 7 kills, 3 blocks and 5 aces. "I needed to get my serves in. We just focused on every little thing."
Bandhauer dominated at the net and at the service line in the third game. The junior tallied 3 kills, 3 blocks and 3 aces.
Crystal River (1-6) didn't back down in the final game. The Pirates closed to within 10-6 thanks to a Julie Fioretti block and a pair of Lecanto hitting errors. The Pirates even fought off three match points until Kristen Maltese's kill ended the match.
"This is something they do a lot," Crystal River coach Trudee Foltz said about her team. "They just never keep it going in the third game. Usually in a three-game match, in one game, we'll come out like superstars. In the third game, they lasted longer than they usually do. We go in spurts."
Crystal River's second-game spurt was led by Fioretti and setter Vanelis Vazquez. Fioretti had three blocks during the Pirates' run while Vazquez fired four aces. Vazquez also finished with 10 assists.
Lecanto (7-0) pulled away from the Pirates quickly in the first game. A pair of Lecanto errors gave the Pirates a 2-0 edge. But the Panthers settled down, running off 10 consecutive points.
Rachel Kenney led the Panthers in the opening game, collecting four of her game-high 11 assists. Kenney also had four of Lecanto's 17 aces. The Panthers had seven aces in the first game.
Crystal River struggled with its service game at times, finishing with 11 service errors. Lecanto had a hard time with its hitting, collecting 16 hitting errors.
"We made just too many errors at the wrong time and in a row," Dickson said. "That just kept swinging the momentum."