GULFPORT — When Casey Barcszcz stepped up to serve for Northeast in the fifth game of the Class 5A, District 12 final Thursday against Pinellas Park with the Vikings clinging to a 14-11 lead, she had one thought .
“I just wanted to silence their fans,” Barcszcz said of the Pinellas Park faithful who had been spirited and loud in hopes of an upset of the defending district champ.
Barcszcz did just that as the 5-foot-3 senior captain served deep into the back line, forcing the Patriots into a lob at the net that Northeast outside hitter Lauren Campbell easily slammed back to give the Vikings a 25-23, 17-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-11 comeback win.
“It’s a great feeling to win two years in a row and in our senior year,” said Barcszcz, who led the Vikings with five aces and 15 assists. “They had the crowd behind them but their chants motivated us. We like when the pressure’s on and we kind of thrive in it.”
Campbell had a match-high 28 kills and was instrumental in helping the Vikings overcome a two-games-to-one deficit . After Northeast had fought back from a four-point deficit to take a 17-16 lead, Campbell helped the Vikings pull away with four serves that set up winners — one on a kill by her, two on kills by Liz McMaster and an ace by Campbell .
“Our morale changed from wanting to win to hoping to win,” Pinellas Park coach Amy Clark said. “One small play becomes huge and then we continued to dwell on it.”
The Vikings jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the decisive game with three winners coming with Barcszcz serving. The Patriots narrowed the score to 9-7 but an errant serve gave the Vikings a side-out and Northeast never looked back.
Andrea Ezell and Kylie Miller each had 14 kills for the Patriots.