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Lecanto finishes strong to defeat Crystal River

The No. 9-ranked Panthers improve after a sloppy start to win their 20th match of the season.

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000


CRYSTAL RIVER -- The final regular-season meeting between Crystal River and Lecanto proved two things.

One: That Crystal River is Citrus County's most improved team.

Two: That Lecanto is still the county's best team.

In an error-filled match, Lecanto completed its regular season by defeating Crystal River 15-13, 15-10. The Panthers, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A, improved to 20-3.

Crystal River, which had gone 9-4 since losing a three-game match to Lecanto last month, fell to 10-11. The Pirates conclude regular-season play at 6 tonight against Seven Rivers Christian.

"The girls wanted to come out and finish the regular season strong," Lecanto coach Kathy Allen said.

To finish strong, Lecanto had to overcome a sluggish beginning.

The Panthers fell behind 8-3 in the first game thanks in large part to an abundance of miscues. At one point, three consecutive Lecanto players missed first-serve attempts.

Kills went wide, and digs were missed.

"That first game, we could not get a serve in," Allen said. "It was very frustrating."

Once Lecanto's serves starting finding the court, the Panthers hit their groove. Lecanto closed the first game by winning 12 of the final 17 points then stormed to an 11-6 lead in Game 2.

"Once we settled down and concentrated on our serves and put the ball in play, we actually started playing well," Allen said.

Before Lecanto could run away with the match, Crystal River made a last-gasp rally to make things interesting. But trailing 11-10, the Pirates' comeback attempts fizzled and Lecanto pulled away for a comfortable win.

"The first game, we came out strong and had a good game," Crystal River coach Trudee Foltz said. "I don't know what happened after that. I don't know if we got too confident or what, but we started making mistakes."

Outside hitter Jill Bandhauer led Lecanto in kills with five.

Crystal River was led by Julie Fioretti, who had two kills and three blocks, and Lisandra Vazquez, who served seven points.

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