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Cougars headed back to state

Defending state champion Durant handily defeats Winter Springs 15-6, 15-13.

By BRANDON WRIGHT

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 10, 2002


Defending state champion Durant handily defeats Winter Springs 15-6, 15-13.

BRANDON -- Durant's Brittany Eukovich said she could look across the net and see the defeat in the faces of the Winter Springs players.

A 10-0 run in the region final will do that.

Durant (27-6) sprinted out to a 10-2 advantage in Game 1 and held off a late Bears rally in Game 2 to defeat Winter Springs 15-6, 15-13 and advance to the state tournament.

"I was just really fired up tonight," Eukovich said. "I felt like I could make a difference with my hitting."

And Eukovich's hitting did prove to be the difference. The senior middle blocker registered a game-high 12 kills.

"I felt like Eukovich was the person who stepped up," Durant coach Teri Ohme said. "She may not swing as hard as a couple of our other players, but her contact (level) is so high, it's just hard to dig."

The Cougars spotted Winter Springs a 2-0 advantage in the first game before taking control with 10 unanswered points. Eukovich said the Cougars' focus was the key in the game-defining run.

"You could see it; we just picked up the intensity," she said.

Neither team was able to gain control of the second game until a five-point Cougars' run put Durant ahead 12-4.

The Cougars pushed the advantage to match point at 14-8, but Winter Springs chipped away to cut the lead to 14-13 on a Lorin Lukas kill. That was as close as the Bears would get.

Following a sideout, Durant's Danielle Herndon and Nicole LeBlanc combined for a block to end the match.

"All year, we've been getting better and better, and I think that's a good sign we didn't peak too early," Ohme said.

Winter Springs defeated King 15-3, 15-1 and Durant beat Pine Ridge 15-9, 15-4 to reach the final.

After watching the Cougars dispose of Winter Springs, Ohme said there are a lot of similarities but one major difference between this year's team and last season's state champion squad.

"To be honest with you, I think we're a little better than last year," she said.

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