Local volleyball teams are hoping to avoid the same fate as last postseason as regional tournaments begin this week.
Six area teams qualified for the state playoffs by finishing their district tournaments as champions or runners-up. The same number of teams went to regionals last year, but only one of them won its regional quarterfinal game.
As the teams look to make it to the second round this year, they know playoff victories don't come easy.
"We have to be strong in our blocking and really good on defense," said Barron Collier outside hitter Victoria Thorsen, whose team plays Riverdale tonight. "If we hit strong we can over come them."
The Cougars, the Class 6A-District 14 champions, host Riverdale for the third straight year. District 14 runner-up Gulf Coast plays at Fort Myers, the three-time state runner-up, tonight, and in Class 2A, First Baptist plays at Sarasota Christian.
On Wednesday, Lely plays at home against Cypress Lake while Estero travels to Lemon Bay. Lely won its second straight 5A-14 title last week, while the Wildcats were runners-up for the second straight year.
Seacrest, runner-up in 3A-11, also plays Wednesday at North Palm Beach-Benjamin, the 3A-12 champion. The District 12 championship game was moved to Monday because of Hurricane Sandy.
The past two postseason matches between Barron Collier and Riverdale have gone five sets. The Cougars won in 2010, their first regional win in five years, while Riverdale got revenge last season.
Gulf Coast also has a repeat of last year when it heads to Fort Myers. The Green Wave swept the Sharks a year ago before finishing 4A runner-up for third straight time.
Fort Myers is once again having a strong season with a 23-3 record, and the Sharks know they have an uphill battle. Gulf Coast is coming off a disappointing loss in the 6A-14 final in which they were up two sets on rival Barron Collier before losing in five.
"We've got to regroup," Gulf Coast coach Christy Wright said. "We're looking forward to bouncing back because we feel we can play even with (Fort Myers)."
Lely, the only local team to win a regional match last season, is looking to repeat history. The Trojan won their first district title last season before earning their first win in the state playoffs.
This year's group is much younger after losing five key seniors from a year ago. But Lely beat first-round opponent Cypress Lake in the regular season, along with Estero and Lemon Bay, teams it could face in the regional semifinals.
"We're playing our best volleyball right now," Trojans coach Daniel Selvey said. "We're very confident, which is good for a young team. I've preached all year it doesn't matter what happens in the regular season. You have to win when it counts."
First Baptist made the playoffs for the first time last season before losing a five-set match to Sarasota Christian, this week's opponent, in the quarterfinals. Seacrest has qualified for regionals the past four years but has yet to win a playoff match.