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Pirates eliminate thoughts of last season's slow start

By CAREY FREEMAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001


Trudee Lightbody was happy with the way her team finished the 2000 season.

It's the beginning that has her concerned about 2001.

By all accounts, though, it appears Crystal River (3-1) has eliminated some of Lightbody's worries.

Last Wednesday's 15-12, 15-11 victory over Citrus hasn't only put the Pirates squarely in contention in Class 3A, District 6, but it has erased memories of last year's 1-6 start.

"We definitely came around at the end last year," Lightbody said. "You never want to start off slow, but that's what happens sometimes. But it's nice to start out on the winning side."

Though the win over the Hurricanes has buoyed Crystal River's spirits, the Pirates will not rest on their early success. Not with the matches that face them the next two weeks.

Crystal River started a long stretch of conference and district matches Monday against Springstead. An especially crucial meeting with Hernando awaits tonight, followed by back-to-back matches with district leader Williston on Thursday and next Tuesday.

"I don't think it will go to their heads," Lightbody said of the Pirates' strong start to the season. "They still make a lot of mistakes.

"We can't continue to do that, especially this week," she said. "Although we've played some district games, we still haven't had a real high level of competition yet."

Williston and Hernando are just that. The Leopards have lost some key stars from last year's district championship team, but they're a squad to be considered in the district. Williston, which beat Hernando last week, seems to be the club everyone is shooting for. Lightbody likes her chances even though she just lost setter Vanellis Vasquez to an injury. One reason is the Crystal River nucleus of players -- Julie Fioretti, Melissa Coburn, Lisandra Vasquez and Jennifer MaCrae -- that participated in club volleyball all summer.

"That's helped," Lightbody said. "By playing together, they have good cohesiveness."

HELTER SKELTER: Citrus has looked good at times and bad at others.

What coach Pam Woznicki wants more than anything is consistency.

The Hurricanes started the season with wins over Ocala West Port and Ocala Forest, then lost last week to Crystal River and Dunnellon.

"Last week was a real bad week for us," Woznicki said. "We didn't play anything like the team I saw that beat Forest.

"We didn't do a whole lot right against Dunnellon. We had no offense, no defense, our passing was off and even our serving was terrible. And we're a pretty good serving team."

Citrus has received strong play from hitters Brittney Doyle, Elisa Masson and Alycia LePage. More players will need to step up this week, as the 'Canes play host to two of the area's better teams -- Lecanto (tonight) and Hernando (Thursday).

"It's a real big week," Woznicki said. "Our offense has to get stronger. On defense, we need to keep hustling and make sure we're in position. One key to competing with these teams is our net play."

THEY GOT GAME: Fioretti, a senior, led Crystal River with a match-high 10 kills in the win over Citrus.

Senior J.J. Bullion, who missed last season with an injured knee, had a solid performance, registering 5 kills. MaCrae, a sophomore, had 2 blocks and 3 kills.

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