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Excitement of competition, pain of defeat

East Lake High volleyball player Kelleigh O'Neill dances the

Sally Walker with a teammate's mother in a pregame ritual before the state semifinal match against Durant High of Plant City. The ritual requires players and their mothers to stand in a circle and take turns dancing in the middle.

Chelsea Lazar spikes the ball during the match against Durant. Lazar and two teammates went to her older sister's wedding the next day. The wedding helped Lazar take her mind off the loss.

Melissa Roberts, a sophomore, runs between her East Lake teammates after her name is called during the starting lineups for the state semifinal Thursday at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

O'Neill covers her head and Erin Chenderlin wipes away tears in the locker room after losing to Durant. "We were so close," O'Neill said. Most players did not attend school the next day. No. 1 Durant went on to beat Niceville and win the state championship Saturday.

Junior Lauren Neel, sophomore Nicole Britenriker, senior Ashley Garee, sophomore Carla Tagarelli, sophomore Roberts and junior O'Neill cheer during a timeout in the match. East Lake finished the season 29-5.