SEMINOLE — For the fourth straight season, Osceola has advanced to regionals. But the No. 2 seed Warriors, who beat Springstead 25-19, 26-24, 25-18 in Tuesday’s Class 6A, District 8 semifinals, are not satisfied just reaching the postseason.
Osceola is trying to win its first district title since 1983. To do so, the Warriors will have to get past top-seeded Mitchell, which beat Largo 25-16, 25-14, 25-20 in the other semifinal.
“The district title is something we’ve been focusing on all season,” Osceola coach Ryan Kramer said. “You look around the gymnasium, and you see all these banners, and there’s just this one year on a banner up there for volleyball.”
In two regular-season matches, the Mustangs beat the Warriors in five games. So it is understandable Osceola has been consumed with beating its biggest district nemesis and spent most of the past week preparing for an inevitable rematch.
But to make it happen, the Warriors (15-11) had to get past the semifinals, which included some close games against Springstead.
“We had a feeling (Springstead) could give us a little bit of test,” said Osceola setter Hayley Misewich, who had a team-leading 25 assists. “Most of our focus has been on Mitchell and trying to beat them for the title.”
Katie Newman had 20 digs and Emily Barton 11 kills for the Warriors.
The Mustangs (20-5), who battled through injuries late in the season, won their 17th straight match. The only test came in the third game when Mitchell put in some reserves and fell behind 9-0.
But the Mustangs put the starters back in and bore down, going on a 19-5 run.
“We fell a little bit out of rhythm in the third game,” Mitchell coach Keith Paulk said. “But overall, it was a solid effort by the girls, and I don’t think we ever felt threatened that we were going to lose the match.”
The Mustangs had a noticeable height advantage with a pair of 6-foot middle hitters in Bailey Sassatelli and Kayla Widera, who had their share of blocks and kills.
“They do a lot for us, and make it difficult for other teams to deal with their size,” Paulk said.
2A-8: Keswick, Bayshore advancing
As expected, Keswick Christian and Bayshore Christian, the top teams in Class 2A, District 8, won their semifinals and will play in Thursday’s championship.
The host Crusaders cruised to a 25-7, 25-17, 25-13 victory over Hernando Christian. Madison Span was dominant at the net and led Keswick with a barrage of kills.
The Faith Warriors beat Canterbury 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 in the other semifinal.
Keswick won both matches in four games against Bayshore in the regular season.
“We’re starting to play really well at the right time,” Crusaders coach Karrmayne King said. “It’ll be a great final with Bayshore. They’ve played well against us all year."