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TAMPA — The Clearwater Central Catholic volleyball team isn’t the bay area’s most imposing squad to take the floor, but it might be one of the most frustrating to play.
Buoyed by a stellar defensive effort, the Marauders took control of second place in Class 3A-10 with a 25-21, 25-14, 25-13 win over district rival Academy of the Holy Names.
“We’re not the tallest team out there, so our coach always preaches to us, defense, defense, defense,” said CCC junior setter Megan Miller, who had a match-high 24 assists. “He always jokes with us because the other team is always taller than us, but we come out there and we dig every ball and do really good with that, being that scrappy team that never lets the ball hit the ground. We like it. We embrace it.”
Junior outside hitter Kalyn Baird led CCC with 16 kills and 11 digs, while senior libero Patricia Amundaray added 10 digs.
For the young Marauders (12-3) — a team with just one senior in its rotation — confidence has grown, especially after beating Fort Myers Evangelical Christian (in four games) and IRC (in three) in this past weekend’s Bishop Verot tournament.
“I think that showed them their potential,” CCC coach Stephen Shepherd said. “Now that they see their potential, they’re going to play to it every time. I was hoping by midseason they’d be in playoff form. Now we’ve rounded the corner and we’re doing really well.”
After dropping a close first game, Holy Names (12-3) — armed with an attack that includes three 6-foot hitters including freshman sensation Sidney Brown — could never gain its footing. In the third game, CCC broke open a 4-4 score with 10 straight points and never looked back.
“They came out on fire,” Holy Names coach Kevin Reynolds said. “They played to win. They took it to us and we were caught a little off guard. CCC definitely kept us off balance with a great defensive effort. We just never could get into the game.”
Brown and junior right-side hitter Brynn Wiley led the Jaguars with 13 kills each.