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Back in familiar territory

Bayshore rolls into the final, which it has won the past two years.

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
Published November 11, 2005

LAKELAND - From the opening serve, the outcome of Bayshore Christian's state semifinal against Deerfield Beach Zion Lutheran on Thursday was never in doubt. But with a trip to the championship on the line, the Faith Warriors took nothing for granted until the final point was over.

"You can never get comfortable," Bayshore middle hitter Heather Johnson.

The result of that focus: A relatively easy 25-13, 25-15, 25-16 win that sends Bayshore to the final a third straight year. The Faith Warriors play Maitland Orangewood Christian today at 2. Bayshore (27-5) has won back-to-back state titles and three overall. The other came in 1998.

"We're back in the finals," an elated Bayshore coach Melanie Humenansky said. "It took lots of hard work, lots of commitment, lots of dedication. We played a competitive schedule to prepare us for this day,"

Zion Lutheran (25-6), which had just one senior, started four freshmen and had no player taller than 5-foot-6. Before the Lions could catch their breath, they trailed 7-0 in the opening game.

Bayshore was better in every facet. Outside hitter Adria Mullaney paced the squad with 10 kills while middle hitter Jannica Mollett added eight. Setter Ashlea Ballangee posted a match-high 19 assists (no other player had more than three). And Bayshore had a kill advantage of 29-10.

Winning easy, though, had one drawback.

"We were never able to get into a rhythm," Humenansky said.

For Bayshore, this trip to the championship match is especially gratifying. The Faith Warriors, who improved to 7-1 all time in final four appearances, lost several standouts from last season's squad and many wondered if their run at the top would end.

Despite the ease of victory Thursday, there seemed to be a feeling it will take a much better effort in the final to return home with the championship trophy. When asked what areas her team would need to improve in today, Humenansky quickly responded, "Everything." Taking nothing for granted, Bayshore quickly headed back to Tampa after post-match interviews to sneak in one final practice.

"I'll be nervous tonight," Mullaney said.

[Last modified November 11, 2005, 01:19:18]


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