After beating Academy of the Holy Names in the district final two weeks ago, St. Petersburg Catholic coach Nick Vandewalle said he had a hunch the two rivals would meet again.
He was right.
The Barons manhandled host Melbourne Central Catholic 65-44, setting up another showdown with the Jaguars in the region final Saturday night at 7.
St. Petersburg Catholic (26-2) won the previous three meetings this season.
"We're awfully familiar with one another," Vandewalle said of Academy. "It's tough enough beating a team three times. Four is asking for a lot."
Using their unmatched depth and smothering defense, the Barons jumped out to a 34-9 lead at the half.
"Defense has been the key for us throughout the playoffs," Vandewalle said. "We were able to able to keep (MCC) in check, and that allowed me to use some reserves in the second half."
Robin Link scored 17 points and broke her own school record with 14 blocked shots. Katie Keegan also came big, scoring a season-high 17.
"Robin was knocking shots away left and right," Vandewalle said. "I knew she had a lot. I didn't it was that many until I looked at the stats afterward. It was impressive."
2A: Keswick outgunned
Keswick coach Karrmayne King knew her team would be at a serious height disadvantage facing First Academy's two dominant post players, Krystal Thomas (6-foot-4) and Jamie Givens (6-1).
But even she perhaps didn't know how big a shadow the two would cast, as the Crusaders had trouble generating anything on offense in a 70-16 loss.
"First Academy is a really good team," King said. "They've got a lot of height and they shoot very well. That posed some problems for us. We just couldn't get anything going."
Chelsea Wozniak was Keswick's leading scorer with seven points.