BULLS 3 EAGLES 1

EAST LAKE – Wiregrass Ranch wasn’t to be stopped Wednesday night at East Lake.

The third-seeded guests went on the attack from the start and, despite dropping the first set, advanced to tomorrow’s Class 6A District 5 championship.

The Bulls had to hold off late-set surges from No. 2 East Lake in the second and third to take control. The Eagles trailed 23-17 in those sets, stormed back, but lost both by similar 25-23 scores.

The fourth and final set was all Wiregrass Ranch. Led by Zoi Evans and Hanna Sifford at the net, the Bulls used a late 7-0 run to take full command at 22-11. They eventually prevailed 25-13 and will head to Sunlake to face the top-seeded Seahawks tomorrow night.

Sunlake beat No. 4 Mitchell 3-0 Wednesday. The 18-5 Seahawks’ lone non-tournament defeat came back on Sept. 22 when they lost 3-0 against East Lake.

Despite falling in the semifinals, the Eagles may not be done playing this season. The Florida High School Athletic Association changed the rules for postseason qualification. In the past, all districts sent two teams into the playoffs: the district tournament champion and runner-up.

Now it’s different.

District tournaments were seeded based on end-of-season MaxPreps rankings. Classifications consist of four regions. Each region has four districts and eight playoff qualifiers. Each region’s top four seeds will be the four district champions. The remaining four qualifiers will be at-large bids based on MaxPreps rankings.

Rankings were last updated on the FHSAA website on Oct. 8. As of then, East Lake had the fifth-best ranking of all Region 6A-2 programs, just behind Sunlake and just ahead of Wiregrass Ranch.

There is a possibility that East Lake, Sunlake and Wiregrass Ranch qualify after district championships all wrap up tomorrow and Friday nights.

BOX SCORE:

WR - 19 – 25 – 25 – 25 --- 3

EL - 25 – 23 – 23 - 13 --- 1