Hernando's Brittni Murphy had one thought as she watched teammate Kara Bailey serve 13 consecutive points in the third game of Tuesday's Class 3A, Region 2 quarterfinal.
"I thought we were going to win," Murphy said, matter-of-factly.
Hernando has won 22 matches, but none were as significant as the Leopards' 25-16, 25-13, 25-11 victory over visiting Williston.
It was Hernando's first playoff victory in coach Dena Frye's six seasons and the school's first since its state semifinal appearance in 1996.
Hernando (22-3) will play Orlando Bishop Moore (13-14) in a region semifinal at 4 p.m. Saturday at Imhoff Gymnasium, where the Leopards have not lost this season.
The winner will advance to the final at 7.
"I was very optimistic about this game, but my kids just came out on fire," Frye said. "I couldn't ask for anything better than what they did."
District 6 champ Hernando jumped on District 5 runner-up Williston (8-7) from the start.
Murphy served four straight points during a 5-0 run that gave the Leopards a 10-3 lead in the opening game. Williston got as close as 17-12 after a four-point run before Hernando, which did not miss a serve in the game, pulled away.
Murphy and Jamie Perdue combined for five points to stake Hernando to a 10-6 lead in the second game. Williston closed to 10-9 on a Leopards lift, but Jillian Matherly served four straight points and Amber Basham added five to set up Perdue's game-winning kill, her fourth of the game.
Williston led 1-0 in the third game on a Danielle Armstrong kill before Bailey responded with 13 points during a 14-0 Hernando.
The stretch was reminiscent of a game against Ocala West Port last season in which Bailey served all 15 points.
"She has become a lot more consistent with her serves later in the season," Frye said.
Murphy (eight kills, nine assists), Bailey (four kills, three blocks, eight aces), Perdue (four kills) and Cory Frederick (12 assists) spearheaded Hernando's offense. Matherly (10 digs, five blocks, seven kills) and Basham (10 digs) led the defense.
The match left Williston coach Shereka Jackson in disbelief.
"We never played like this," Jackson said. "I can't grasp what went wrong tonight."
Historic Pasco win
Pasco fended off a match point and rallied to upset Dixie County, earning the school's first region playoff victory with a 20-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 17-15 win in Cross City.
The Pirates (11-13) trailed 15-14 in the final game before rallying for the final three points, the last two coming with Amy Herndon serving. Sophomore Ashley Naughton led Pasco with 13 kills.
"We played a lot better tonight. Our passing was good, our setting was good," coach Ramiro Tejada said. "We didn't play well in the games we lost, but in the ones we won, the girls played almost mistake-free volleyball."'
Pasco had never won a playoff game, making the playoffs the past two seasons but losing in the first round both times. Dixie County (17-6) received enough votes to rank 11th in the Class 3A state poll but couldn't finish off the Pirates.
The Pirates will play Orlando Lake Highland Prep in Saturday's region semifinal at Hernando.
_ TIMES STAFF