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CLEARWATER — Coming off five matches in two days last weekend at the Tampa Bay Invitational, it would have been understandable if Clearwater Central Catholic was a bit sluggish Tuesday against Class 3A-9 rival Indian Rocks Christian. But on senior night the Marauders looked like a team prepared to go far in the postseason, sweeping the Golden Eagles 25-9, 25-14, 25-14.
“For us (losing) wasn’t even a possibility,” senior setter Casey Moore said. “We wanted to win so badly, especially the four seniors. We were talking about how this was going to be one of the last times we were going to play in this gym.”
With that in mind, the Marauders started fast and never let up. In the first game, CCC (15-3) jumped out to a 16-3 lead behind kills from Rachel Odell, Christy Moore, Shea Hamilton and blocks and kills from Katie Moore.
The closest IRC (12-7) got after that was 18-7, but CCC rattled off five straight points.
After a spirited talk by coach Mark Foster, the Golden Eagles looked more motivated in the second game. IRC took a 6-5 lead on a Marissa Brown kill. But CCC scored five straight points to take a lead it would not relinquish. The Eagles did cut it to 12-10, but mistakes and Odell kills allowed CCC to score the next seven of eight points.
The third game followed the same script as the second. IRC took an early lead thanks to three straight aces by Brown. Then the Moore-to-Odell combination took over.
The Marauders had to play most of last weekend’s tournament without Moore at setter because of a right ankle sprain. She was not at 100 percent Tuesday, but managed to play all three games.
“I think not having Casey made us a better team,” CCC coach Stephen Shepherd said. “Of course we wanted to have her, but it taught us how to play without her. Now that she is back, we are a much better team. We’re going to need her this week.”
CCC plays at home against Tarpon Springs on Thursday then travels to Orlando for the Dig Pink Tournament, which features some of the top teams in the state.
Odell led CCC with eight kills. Katie Moore added eight kills and Rachel Miller had 25 digs.