The Countryside volleyball team entered the Jacksonville Bolles Invitational this weekend short-handed as starting right side Megan Siminski was sidelined with the flu.
Countryside was further depleted when starting middle Nicole Dunn was injured in the Cougars' opening win over Fort Walton Beach.
The setbacks, however, didn't hinder Countryside's performance. The Cougars won all five matches and defeated Jupiter 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 17-15 in the final to win the tournament and improve to an undefeated 16-0 on the season.
JV middle Hannah Glover jumped in for Dunn and started the Cougars' final four victories. Shatia Wallace came off the bench to replace Siminski. Both were instrumental in Countryside's first-place finish.
"I don't know how we won, but it was definitely interesting," Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly said.
Countryside beat Fort Walton Beach, Providence and Jacksonville Bolles in pool play, then defeated Bishop Kenny three games to one in the semifinal before triumphing over Jupiter in the final.
"I have to give our kids a lot of credit," Bayly said. "They just believed that they could play with anybody. It was a really good experience for them because of the size factor. We faced a lot of bigger teams."
Christina Berry, Sara Wright and Davionna DiSalvatore were named to the all-tournament team. There was no tourney MVP, but if one were named, Bayly is confident DiSalvatore would have earned that honor.
"Davi just played defense like nobody else," Bayly said. "Teams were pounding balls that she was digging left and right. She had a really good weekend."
Dunn's status for Countryside's pivotal district match with Palm Harbor University on Tuesday will be a game-time decision.
"We really don't know what her injury is," Bayly said. "It's not an ankle; it's kind of a shooting pain up her lower leg. Everybody has given her the OK to play, it's just a matter of if she can stand the pain. She's pretty tough."
-- BRYAN BURNS