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Saturday, Mar 28, 2015

Hernando-Weeki Wachee battle looms in Fivay Classic


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Hernando and Weeki Wachee have a far more meaningful match on the near horizon, a clash next Wednesday between the top two teams in Class 5A, District 7.

But when they face each other Saturday in the Fivay Volleyball Classic, it won't be just any other match.

"It's one of those rival games," Weeki Wachee head coach Kelly Werkmeister said. "They'll be out for blood. This one doesn't count, but it's going to be a battle, I know it is."

The Lady Leopards and Lady Hornets are two of the four teams helping to comprise the 10-team field for the two-day event starting today at both Fivay and Hudson High.

Hernando and Weeki Wachee are in Pool C, while Springstead is in Pool A and Central in Pool B.

On Saturday, teams will be seeded according to records in pool play and divided into three brackets - Gold, Silver and Bronze - to determine their placing.

"It's just going to be good volleyball all-around," Werkmeister said.

The Lady Hornets (9-3) are enjoying a breakthrough in their third varsity campaign, having already surpassed their combined seven wins from the first two seasons.

They are 9-0 in 5A-7 play, including a victory over Hernando on Sept. 10, 21-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-18.

Werkmeister credits a talented collection of young players. The Lady Hornets have been led by freshman outside hitter Miranda Werkmeister, junior middle hitter Chreslyn Serama, senior middle hitter Shannan Evers and junior setter Alyssa Cupeles.

"The girls are fighting for everything they want," Coach Werkmeister said. "They're really fighting for a district title. Hernando is going to put up a fight. I think they're the opponent that's going to be our rival. But these girls are playing their hearts out."

Weeki Wachee, who went 1-3 in this tournament last year, plays at Hudson today versus Sunlake at 4:30 p.m. and Hudson at 6:30 p.m., then takes on Hernando on Saturday at Fivay, starting at 8:30 a.m.

The Lady Leopards (9-2) are participating in this tournament for the fourth straight year. They finished as high as second in 2010, and went 2-2 a season ago.

Previous head coach Patti Martin noted that this often served as a turning point in Hernando's season, but right now the Lady Leopards don't find themselves struggling.

"We're using it to further continue pulling it together, getting ready for districts," said Hernando's first-year head coach Robin Bailey. "We've used a couple of new rotations lately, so we'll use this to get consistent.

"We think we can be in the top two. We have to get past Weeki Wachee to enter the Gold (bracket). They beat us, but we're ready for them.

"We're fired up. We know we should have had the game we played (the Lady Hornets). That was not like us at all, and we're ready."

Bailey, an assistant under Martin the past four years, noted that the player's familiarity with her and the system has put the team ahead of the curve. The one notable addition, freshman Ali Bronson, has provided a big hitter up front.

"The girls know each other. A lot of them are friends outside volleyball," Bailey said. "They want to back each other up and they want to be successful in the sport they love."

In an odd quirk to the tournament's unbalanced pool-play schedule, Hernando takes on the host Lady Cobras at Hudson tonight at 5:30 p.m., then must traverse to Fivay for a match against the host Lady Falcons at 7:30 p.m.

Springstead (6-5) faces Land O' Lakes today at 4:30 p.m. and Clearwater-Countryside at 6:30 p.m., then Fivay on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. All three games are at Fivay.

The Lady Eagles came in fourth last year, going 2-3.

"I hope we play well as a team and hopefully have a good showing," Springstead head coach Noemi Rivera said. "I feel like we've had our ups and downs and I think we need to be a little more level.

"We just need to trust each other and we need to keep talking and keep each other up and have each other's backs."

Central (4-7) plays at Fivay, against Ridgewood at 4:30 p.m. today and Sunlake at 6:30 p.m., then Countryside on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

In last year's tournament, the Lady Bears ended up 3-2.

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At a Glance

What: Fourth annual Fivay Volleyball Classic

Who: Pool A - Clearwater-Countryside, Springstead and Land O' Lakes; Pool B - Sunlake, Central and Ridgewood; Pool C - Hudson, Hernando and Weeki Wachee; Wildcard Pool - Fivay.

When: Friday and Saturday

Where: Fivay High and Hudson High School.

Format: Four guaranteed matches with pool play Friday and early Saturday, then divided into three brackets - Gold, Silver and Bronze - later Saturday.

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