For the second straight season, the Weeki Wachee volleyball team is headed back to the Elite Eight. This time, the Lady Hornets get to play it in their own gym.
On Tuesday at 7 p.m., they’ll host Ponte Vedra in the Class 6A, Region 2 final, a rematch of last year’s meeting in the same round, won by the host Sharks, 25-27, 25-19, 27-25, 25-13.
“It’s something they want to finish. They want to move on,” Weeki Wachee head coach Kelly Werkmeister said. “They want to get to states because they (the seniors) know it’s their last year. Our veteran players, it’s a big thing to them because they know once it’s over, it’s over. They want to go out and finish really strong this year.”
They got to this point by sweeping Fivay on Friday night in a semifinal, 25-19, 25-22, 25-23.
“We got them fired up right out of the gate. They played their game. It was just consistent volleyball,” Werkmeister said. “They played to their potential because it was win or go home and the girls are not ready to go home yet.
“We’ve never played defense like we played (Friday). Fivay was scrappy. All the girls came together and played as a team.”
Werkmeister praised setter Sarah Asbury for being in sync with the hitters. The senior doled out 34 assists, many of them to Miranda Werkmeister (16 kills) and Brooke Sereda (nine kills). Asbury also had two aces and 13 digs. Miranda Werkmeister added 24 digs for the Lady Hornets (21-8), while libero Amber Paulsen had 17.
Weeki Wachee will be attempting to become the first Hernando County volleyball team to advance to the Final Four since Hernando in 1996. The Lady Leopards also went twice in 1984-85.
Meanwhile Friday’s football action also had some postseason implications. Springstead took care of business, knocking off Pasco, 48-18.
As a result, the Eagles (5-2) finished 3-1 in 6A-District 6. That win combined with Mitchell’s over Land O’ Lakes forces a three-way tiebreaker for two playoff spots between the Mustangs, Springstead and Sunlake. That will take place Monday at Mitchell.
Against the Pirates, Randy Morgan ran for 213 yards and scored four touchdowns, including one on the opening kickoff and another on a pass from Jordan Wright.
Weeki Wachee lost its final home game of the season, to playoff-bound Crystal River, 56-13. Diante Thomas caught a 79-yard touchdown pass from Alec Cromie, who also ran for a late 15-yard score for the Hornets (0-9 overall, 0-6 5A-7).
This Thursday, Weeki Wachee will travel to Springstead in the regular-season finale for both squads.
On Saturday at Winter Park-Trinity Prep, Hernando junior Trevor Foley won the 2A-Region 2 boys cross country race, running a time of 16:20.40, nearly 24 seconds ahead of the next closest challenger.
The entire Leopard squad earned a trip to states, finishing fifth with a total of 174. Nature Coast was 13th with 330. Aside from Foley, Ryan Bell placed 15th for Hernando in 17:53.40. Ross Stalcup came in 29th (18:32.00), Seth Wilson was 73rd (20:08.20) and Wesley Wilson finished 75th (20:22.00).
Central freshman Rayna King earned a state berth with a 10th-place 20:36.90. The Nature Coast girls tallied a 217 in eighth.
Also Saturday, the 2A-District 7 swim meet took place at The Long Center in Clearwater, and the Springstead boys followed last year’s district title with a respectable runner-up showing. The Eagles scored 348, well behind 423 by Lecanto, who also won on the girls side by a wide margin.
A.J. Borg collected a district crown in the 100-yard butterfly (1:01.21), and Zack Starz did the same in the 100 free (50.07) and added a second in the 50 free (22.94) for Springstead. D.J. Lemke came in second in the 200 IM (2:25.09), good enough to earn one of the automatic regional berths awarded to the top two in each individual race and the winning relays.
Starz, Lemke, Borg and Kyler Gray took the 200-medley relay in 1:54.90, and the 200-free relay with a 1:40.30.
“I’m pretty impressed, I’m pretty excited about it with the amount of boys I have again this year. Low numbers, again a strong team,” Springstead coach Wayne Withington said. “I kind of came in thinking I was going to be second and very, very happy that we did come out second.
“I only have one senior boy. That says a lot right there. Last year I lost a lot of senior boys. The underclassmen picked it up and stepped it up for the rest of the team.”
The Lady Eagles came in fourth (234) and were led by sophomore Dakotah-Rae Chanthachoumpha. She was second in the 200 IM (2:25.56) and the 100 backstroke (1:07.58). Victoria Cleto came in second in the 200 free (2:06.47).
“I was hoping more closer to second and third for the girls. There’s a little bit of disappointment, but still happy with their performance,” Withington said. “Overall, they all swam really well.”
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.