CRYSTAL RIVER - In the opening round of the 4A-9 tournament, both teams that were favored to win did.
In the first match, Lecanto (9-4) defeated Citrus (2-11) for the third time this year 25-15, 25-20, 25-13. The Panthers were lead by senior captain Nikki Pontius, who had four kills, two blocked shots and six service points. She got off to a sluggish start, which forced coach Freddie Bullock to rotate her out.
"Nikki struggled and she knew she did," Bullock said. "I will pull a senior for a freshman if the senior is struggling and they know that."
Pontius came back in the third game and made the most of her opportunity. She made three kills late and had a key block.
"I should have got taken out," Pontius said. "Coach has told us that when one senior makes a mistake we all start to make mistakes and I was making a lot of errors so she took me out and put in a freshman. I know if I come in and don't do my job I will just get taken out again."
In the nightcap, Leesburg (11-2) ousted Springstead (0-13) in straight games 25-17, 25-13, 25-11. Leesburg came out flat and Springstead lead 7-1 in Game 1. The Yellow Jackets called a time out and coach Amy Morley tried to settle her team.
"I told them that they had to come out with a little intensity. We came out a little nervous because last year we were knocked out early and they were not expecting it," Morley said. "They were a little scared just like any other team, but we got on a roll and played a pretty decent game tonight."
Junior Jessica Brady played a dominating match. She had 10 kills, one block and 11 service points, including nine in a row in the second game; four were aces.
"Jessica played a great game for us tonight," Morley said. "I was pleased with her performance.
Lecanto and Leesburg play for the title at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Crystal River.