Bayshore volleyball found itself in a dog fight Thursday night against Tarpon Springs in a Class 5A-District 11 district volleyball semifinal.
The Bruins (11-5) were able to fend off the scrappy Spongers, defeating them in straight sets, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23, to advance to Monday's championship game and clinch a berth in the regional playoffs.
"We started off with a few errors, which kept them in the first two sets, but we were able to clean it up," Bayshore head coach Nancy Cothron said. "That's a tough team over there. We had to match their intensity because they don't quit."
Freshman Mackenzie Dufresne, who finished with seven kills and seven blocks, had back-to-back kills in the third set, giving the Spongers a 23-20 lead and forcing coach Cothron to call a timeout and regroup her Bruins.
Following the timeout, Bayshore's Ashlyn Davis took over, closing out the match with a kill and four straight aces.
"Coach told us during the timeout to get our heads in the game and fix our mistakes," Davis said. "They played a really good game. It forced us to keep up and match their effort."
Davis lead the Bruins with 12 kills, three blocks and four aces while Alexus Norman and Jasmine Youngthunder added six kills apiece.
Tarpon Springs (12-14), which has a young team, played hard but showed its youth down the stretch of each set, making simple mistakes and showing an inability to close.
"We just couldn't finish tonight," Spongers head coach Patrick Sneed said. "The pressure seemed to be too much for them at times and Bayshore took advantage."
Sneed was forced to make adjustments to his front row due to a shoulder injury to his only senior, Mackenzie Worden.
Sophomores Gracie Magoulis and Jill Foster both chipped in four kills for Tarpon Springs.
"We are very young,"
Sneed said. "The positive we can take from this is they got some court experience tonight and we can use that going into next season."
Bayshore, the No. 2 seed in district play, was swept by top-seeded Dunedin earlier this season but will have a shot at revenge -- and a district title -- in Monday's rematch.