LAKEWOOD RANCH -- When you are veteran team with a lot of success, sometimes it's hard to generate energy.
But the good part is that sometimes you don't need a lot of energy to win.
The Lakewood Ranch volleyball team proved that by sweeping North Port 25-15, 25-18 and 25-17 in a Class 7A-District 10 semifinal match Tuesday.
Lakewood Ranch (21-5) will go for its third straight district championship Thursday night when it plays host to Sarasota.
"We played good enough to win," Lakewood Ranch head coach Perri Hankins said. "We will be ready to go on Thursday. We lost three starters from last year and have four seniors who have played together all four years, so that is our nucleus. We've add
ed some others who have molded together to be a pretty good team."
The Mustangs also are mending at the right time. They recently got senior setter Ali Milbourn back. She missed a good portion of the season because of an injury.
"It's great. She has run the offense for three years, and it's nice to get back into what we normally are used to doing," Hankins said.
The Mustangs were never seriously challenged, though North Port (11-15) kept within range in each game.
Milbourn had 18 assists, and Savannah Sears was credited with 22 assists.
"This is my fourth match back. I am not up to where I was before I was injured," Milbourn said. "I slipped a disk in my back. I've started since my freshman year, so I bring a lot of experience. It was hard sitting on the bench. Unfortunately, sometimes we don't have the drive to play with a lot of intensity when we play a team that we are supposed to beat, but it will be different Thursday."
The Mustangs got a good match from middle hitter Nicole Grant, who led the team with 14 kills and had four aces. Ashlyn Falahee was credited with six kills and had eight digs.
"The season is going fantastic. I didn't have that good of game tonight, but we played well together, especially now that Ali is back. We jell better with her," Falahee said. "We've won two district titles, and it's about to be three. They (North Port) put up a good fight, but we are definitely fueled for Thursday."
Lakewood Ranch looked sluggish in the third game when it trailed 8-3.
But sparked by three kills by Kahlee York, the Mustangs outscored North Port 14-3 to take a 17-11 lead and never looked back.