Teitelman

Lecanto’s Grace Teitelman, center, goes with the soft touch above the Fivay defense Wednesday in a Class 5A regional semifinal match in Hudson. The Panthers were swept to end their season.

HUDSON — Two weeks ago, Lecanto pushed Fivay to five sets before ultimately falling in the district championship match.

Getting a second crack at the Falcons, the Panthers stayed close over the final two sets but ultimately couldn’t overcome host Fivay in a Region 5A-2 semifinal on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.

This time Lecanto saw its season come to an end in the Sweet 16, 25-15, 25-22, 25-23.

“I’m very proud of all our young ladies. They didn’t get down when we were behind. They worked hard no matter what the situation,” Lecanto head coach Wanda Grey said. “We had a rough first set. We had an injury. We had to try a couple different things, and then switched it back up in the second set which you could tell made a big difference. And I’m just proud of these young ladies, big hearts all of them.”

It was middle hitter Emersen Willard who was missing during the first set due to a badly jammed finger, but she declared herself good to go and returned to the court in the second set, Grey said.

In the opening game the Falcons (13-12) took advantage quickly, getting out to an 8-1 edge with Alexis MacNeill serving six points. After the Panthers (12-5) pulled to within 17-13 on three points served by Joeimilie Rijos Lozada, Fivay rattled off six points with Faith Jetter serving to make it 24-14.

In the second set, Lecanto got out in front 12-8 when Jaela Richardson served three points. The Falcons, though, chipped away preceding a six-point service turn by libero Jasmin Blossfield. They took a 19-18 advantage on a block by Jenna Moukazis and wound up leading 23-18. Chayla Wade notched the game-winning point on a kill, the last of her seven in that second set.

Fivay was in front 9-4 on four points served by Makayla Way in the third, and as much as 18-11 on an ace by MacNeill. Lecanto rallied to cut the deficit to 20-19 on a kill by Jaelynn Richardson, but could never tie it up.

“We were definitely happier to get closer again,” Coach Grey said. “Of course we wanted a different outcome. They did a good job of mixing up hits to tips type things and that’s where we weren’t covering as well.”

Wade ended up with a match-high 10 kills, while Way added nine and Jetters had 15 assists. The Falcons moved on to face Vanguard on Saturday.

Lozada posted 12 assists for the Panthers, and Mackenzi Grey led the team with six kills. So that closed out a campaign truncated by COVID-19, with the schedule limited to only Gulf Coast 8 conference foes until districts.

“As a whole I’m super proud,” Coach Grey said. “Made it to the Sweet 16. Fought back from runner-up at districts, fought back at the last match to come back here again. Overall I think it was a great season.”

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Contact Chronicle sports reporter Chris Bernhardt at 352-563-5660, chris.bernhardt@chronicleonline.com or on twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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