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Vikings, Warhawks in title game again

Northeast and Seminole make the playoffs and will square off for the 5A-10 volleyball crown Thursday night.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002

SEMINOLE -- The Class 5A, District 10 final between Northeast and Seminole, anticipated since the season began, became a reality after both teams overcame lapses to sweep their semifinal matches Tuesday.

Host Seminole, the No. 2 seed in the district, jumped out to a big lead against Boca Ciega (19-8) and held on for a 15-4, 16-14 victory. In the other semifinal, the top-seeded Vikings survived a close first game against St. Petersburg (9-8) to win 18-16, 15-7.

Northeast (18-4) will play Seminole (19-5) on Thursday night for the district title for the second year in a row. Last season, the Vikings won in three games.

Much like they did a year ago, the Vikings earned the top seed by cruising through the regular season, refusing to play down to the level of their opposition.

But in Tuesday's first game, Northeast trailed 14-13 to the fourth-seeded Green Devils.

Were the Vikings overconfident? Who knows? The important thing is Northeast was enough of its old self down the stretch to squeak by.

After six lead changes and eight ties, the Vikings closed out the first game by scoring three of the final four points.

Losing the first game seemed to deflate St. Petersburg. Leading 5-2 in the second game, the Green Devils watched as Northeast scored the next 11 points en route to a two-game victory.

"There's not too much to say about tonight's game," Vikings coach Sean O'Flannery said.

Seminole, which has won 18 of its past 20 matches, had to stave off a pesky Pirates team. After cruising in the first game, the Warhawks fell out of synch in the second and fell behind.

"We definitely didn't want to go to three games," Seminole coach Fran Cosich said. "Fundamentally, we weren't doing what we know how to do in the second game. We were unfolding as a group and needed to come together.

"Fortunately, Dyionna (Smith) did exactly what she had to do."

What Smith did was provide a perfect kill at the perfect time. After battling back to take a 15-14 lead, Smith flew through the air and connected on a kill to end it.

Smith had 11 assists and 11 kills. Ashley Martin also had 11 kills and Jen Hansen had four service aces.

"Boca Ciega played a nice defensive game," Cosich said. "I was pleased we were able to put it together tonight to win."

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