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If Boca Ciega makes it to the state final, it will be without Tory Stephens.
On Friday, Pirates coach Will White said Stephens was dismissed from the team because of "attitude problems."
Stephens, an electrifying sophomore guard, helped lead Boca Ciega to a district title and the region semifinals last year.
She was expected to have an even bigger role this year with the loss of Tiffany Williams, who graduated.
While Stephens departure hurts, the Pirates still have the talent to contend with Lakewood.
Ashley Williams, a senior, takes over as the team leader.
Hannah Stenfors, an inside force, is back after missing most of the volleyball season with a severely sprained ankle. And Sam Stine, a transfer from Dixie Hollins, gives the Pirates another talented guard.
Boca Ciega has a talented freshman class to add depth.
It is enough to keep Boca Ciega alive against Lakewood, but it could take time to find whether it is enough to repeat as district champions.
SLICK SCHEDULE: Lakewood coach Necole Tunsi wanted to put together a schedule that would yield few easy nights.
The county hindered that by not allowing public county teams to play private schools in regular season games. There also has to be a certain amount of games between public county teams.
Still, Tunsil found a way to work around it by playing tough tournaments in Kissimmee this month and in Atlanta in December.