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Rally puts Leopards into tie for first place

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000


LECANTO -- Let's face it, there isn't much that separates sixth-ranked Hernando and ninth-ranked Lecanto on the volleyball court.

Last year, they split two matches.

Earlier this season, they went three games before Lecanto finally won.

The teams added another exciting chapter to what has become the area's best rivalry Tuesday night as Hernando rallied from far behind in both games to win 17-15, 17-15.

"Beating them really pumps us up," Hernando middle blocker Chrissy Hartley said.

More important, the win moved Hernando (13-1 overall, 9-1 in Class 4A, District 6) into a first-place tie in district play with Lecanto (15-3, 9-1), which dropped its third match in the past week.

Hernando also improved to 8-1 in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.

Lecanto fell to 6-1.

Hernando's win was keyed by the play of Hartley.

In the second game, she had nine kills, including four during a stretch in which the Leopards won nine consecutive points and went from being five points down to four points ahead. Hartley also had a crucial kill for a sideout late in the same game that kept Lecanto from pulling even.

She finished with a match-high 11 kills.

"Our whole team came together," Hartley said. "We wanted it more. (Lecanto) played great. They gave us a run for the money."

The loss was especially disturbing for Lecanto because the Panthers also lost a sizeable lead in the first game.

Lecanto started the match by taking an 11-5 lead, thanks in large part to the play of junior middle blocker Jill Bandhauer, who had six kills in the opening game. At one point, the Panthers won seven consecutive points with Amy Colasanti serving.

"I thought we totally had it at the beginning of each game," Lecanto setter Rachel Kenney said. "We fell apart."

Bandhauer finished with a team-high eight kills, but it wasn't enough.

A combination of bad serving and poor passing by Lecanto helped kick start Hernando's comeback.

Hernando rallied behind the play of middle blocker Bernice Mosby, who had five kills in the first game and several key blocks.

Lecanto took a 14-11 lead after a Colasanti ace, but Hernando scored the next three points and won the first game on a Hartley kill.

"Our kids have a heart of gold," Hernando coach Dena Frye said. "They play up to the competition. That's the first time they have played that well all year. I think they just wanted it more."

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