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LAKEWOOD, NORTHEAST TO SQUARE OFF FOR TITLE

Both teams drop just one game in the semis en route to the championship final tonight.

A Class 5A, District 11 final between Northeast and Lakewood, anticipated since the season began, became a reality after both teams won their semifinals Wednesday.

The Vikings, the No. 2 seed, overcame a rough start to beat Seminole 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 26-24. In the other semifinal, the top-seeded Spartans nabbed a 25-10, 25-12, 20-25, 25-13 victory over Boca Ciega.

The final is tonight at 7.

Lakewood, which is trying to win its fourth straight district title, cruised through the regular season by refusing to play down to the level of its opposition.

But in Wednesday's semifinal, the Spartans trailed early in the first two games and lost a game for the first time this season to the Pirates.

Was Lakewood (20-4) overconfident? Who knows. The important thing was the Spartans were enough of their old selves down the stretch to squeak by.

"We went into cruise control and lost our focus for a little bit," Lakewood coach Sean O'Flannery said.

In the final game, Lakewood took an early lead and never relinquished it. Berkley Whaley led the Spartans with 18 kills. Her older sister, Taylor, had 13 kills and five service aces.

"I thought we were going to play a little better than we did tonight," Berkley Whaley said. "We should have had this in three games. But as soon as we got to 20 points, we started to slack off. We can't do that again."

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes or (727) 445-4169.

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