ST. PETERSBURG — It was hard to tell Tuesday night’s match between St. Petersburg and Clearwater was the first of the season for both teams. With just about every point hotly contested, the game had more of a late-season or even playoff feel.
After four intense games, St. Petersburg came away with a 25-18, 15-25, 25-20, 27-25 win. It is the second straight time the Green Devils have opened the season with a win over the Tornadoes.
“We played them the first game last season and it went five games and ended up being our most intense game all season,” St. Petersburg senior hitter Victoria Alexander said. “We knew we had to outwork them and outhustle them. I think we were pretty successful because we beat them in four this year.”
It was close to going to a fifth game.
St. Petersburg took the first game behind the net play of Kaylan Markese. Clearwater stormed ahead in the second thanks to a 9-0 run. The Green Devils rebounded to take the third game. St. Petersburg went on a 7-2 run in the middle for a 16-11 lead. Clearwater could get no closer than three points and St. Petersburg closed out the game with a kill by Alexander.
The Tornadoes would not go quietly in the fourth game. St. Petersburg jumped out to an 8-4 lead, but Clearwater battled back behind the net play of Samantha Reeves and the serving of Allie Russell.
The game was tied at 21 thanks to a Reeves kill. It was tied again at 22 on a Reeves block. Then St. Petersburg tied the game at 24 on a block by Casey Houlton. It was tied for the final time at 25 on a Russell kill. St. Petersburg scored the final two points on a Clearwater service and hitting error.
“(Clearwater) worked out the kinks and made good adjustments in that second game,” St. Petersburg coach Alex Sevillano said. “They figured out how to take Kaylan out of her game for a while. I think we both made good adjustments, which is why it was so close. I’m exhausted and I didn’t even do anything.”