ST. PETERSBURG — This past summer, St. Petersburg senior setter Amanda Cook played on a club team with Tarpon Springs senior Karli Collins directed by Tarpon Springs coach Patrick Sneed. That familiarity backfired against Cook on Tuesday as the Spongers outlasted the Green Devils 25-8, 25-16, 23-25, 25-17.
“We knew how good of a hitter she was so we focused on keeping the ball from her as much as possible,” Sneed said. “We didn’t do a good job of it in the third, but we made sure we knew where she was in the fourth.”
The Spongers cruised through the first two games behind Collins, who had a combined seven aces to go along with eight kills and helped Tarpon Springs mount a 10-0 lead in the second game.
Tarpon Springs built a 11-7 lead in the third but St. Petersburg battled back to take a 13-12 lead on a ferocious kill by Cook, who had nine of her 13 kills in the game. The teams traded the lead four times and shared a tie six times the rest of the game before the Green Devils closed it out with a kill by Cook and a block by Mary Reschar.
“I’m proud of the way we fought back, and the way we passed and communicated is something we can learn from and use the rest of the season,” Cook said.
In the fourth game, the Spongers (5-6) built an 8-2 lead before the Green Devils closed the gap to 11-10. But after Micah MacGregor forced a side out with a kill, Kelly Lorenz served two consecutive aces, followed up by two kills from Collins as the Spongers went on a 9-0 run to put the match away. MacGregor led Tarpon with 11 kills.
“We just have to use this type of game to learn to put teams away when we have the chance and don’t let them gain confidence,” Collins said.