LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Perri Hankins was looking for some adversity.
The Lakewood Ranch head volleyball coach was worried that things had gone too easy for her Mustangs in their first two postseason matches.
"You never want to be happy that a set is close, but we needed to have some pressure on us to get us ready," Hankins said. "It just gets harder as we advance as it should be. All the teams are better, and hopefully this team is ready to step up to any challenge."
Lakewood Ranch rebounded from its first bit of adversity, disposing of visiting Tarpon Springs East Lake in three sets Wednesday in a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
The Mustangs (22-6) had swept their two opponents in their district tournament and defeated East Lake (19-10) 25-13 and 25-14 in the first two sets.
They were leading 7-1 in the third set when things started to go awry. East Lake got a few points started to gain some confidence and went on a 14-5 run to take a 15-12 lead.
Then it was back and forth. East Lake took its last lead at 21-20. Nicole Grant, the Mustangs power hitter, got two kills and Ranch went ahead 23-21.
East Lake came right back to tie at 23. That's when Ranch's power game showed its versatility with sophomores Kahlee York and Shelby Dollwet notching back-to-back kills to end the match.
The Mustangs will be home for their region semifinal match Tuesday against district foe Sarasota, which defeated Seminole 3-2 in another quarterfinal Wednesday. It will be the fourth straight region semifinal for Lakewood Ranch.
"In the third set, we went back to a lineup we had been using but the big thing is they got hot," Hankins said. "They made some great defensive plays and started running the middle more. They are fighting for their lives because it's the third set, and we were a little sluggish and weren't attacking as much out of the back row and let some balls drop that we thought were out."
Grant led the Mustangs with 16 kills and had 11 digs, two aces and a block. York had 12 kills and two blocks, Courtney Rapp added 34 assists, and Andre McDonald had 18 digs.
"I think (in the last set) we were thinking too far ahead. We got excited, ready to finish it, and it got into our heads," Grant said. "We changed a lot up in the third game and that changed the momentum a little, but we came through when we needed to. We always come through. I am glad it was tight at the end because as we go on we are going to face harder teams."
The most points Lakewood Ranch had given up in a set since the postseason began was 17 against Sarasota in the district title match.
Against East Lake ,the Mustangs showed they can get kills from a variety of players with Coleen Campbell and Layne Thompson contributing some big points.
"It's really easy to play with all these girls," York said. "I wasn't worried in the last set. We made some changes and to get back into it. I've learned a lot from Nicole and some of the older girls, like just the energy they have on the court."