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Pirates serve South Sumter surprise

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


Thursday's win against top-seeded South Sumter in the semifinals of the Class 3A, District 6 Tournament will go down as one of the biggest in Crystal River history.

The upset will allow the Pirates to make their first trip to the playoffs since 1992.

South Sumter had beaten Crystal River twice during the regular season, and was 8-2 against district opponents.

The Pirates, who entered as the No. 3 seed, went 5-5 in district play thanks only to a late push.

"That's the best we've played all year," Crystal River coach Trudee Foltz said.

The Pirates won with a strong net presence that kept South Sumter's big hitters at bay.

Crystal River later lost to Wesley Chapel, 15-0, 15-9, in the final, but that didn't spoil the day. At one point this season, the Pirates (12-13) were 1-6.

They travel to Keystone Heights on Tuesday for a first-round playoff match.

Keystone Heights (20-9) upset top-seeded and 10th-ranked Dixie County 15-11, 15-7 in the 3A-6 championship.

ONE-TWO PUNCH: There were two keys to Wesley Chapel's 3A-6 semifinal win against Citrus: Defense and passing.

The Wildcats stopped almost every spike. On the other side of the net, Citrus had trouble passing and committed several unforced errors.

The result was a disappointing 15-10, 15-7 loss for the Hurricanes (7-15), who after a terrible start to the season played rather well.

They finished the district semifinal with seven kills -- four from Alyse Johnson.

"The biggest thing was Wesley Chapel's defense," Citrus coach Pam Woznicki said.

SOUR ENDING: Lecanto's upset loss to Central in the 4A-6 semifinals was a disappointing end to an otherwise solid season.

The Panthers, ranked ninth in the final 4A poll, finished 21-4.

Lecanto returns several key players next season, including outside hitter Jill Bandhauer.

The Panthers, however, have to replace their top setter, Rachel Kenney.

NOTABLE: Lecanto went 2-0 against Central during the regular season. Both matches went three games.

Lecanto will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996.

In a combined six matches against South Sumter and Wesley Chapel, Crystal River went 1-5.

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