TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic's season was on life support Wednesday night.
Down two games to none to the Academy of the Holy Names in the Marauders' Class 3A, District 11 semifinal match at Berkeley Prep, CCC was looking at elimination.
But second-year coach Brian Imperiale huddled his young team — the Marauders have no seniors — and told his players momentum could quickly be theirs.
"I told the team that if we could just get one (game), then the pressure's on (Holy Names)," Imperiale said.
His team bought into that pep talk, and the Marauders made a remarkable comeback, clinching a region berth with a five-game victory over the Jaguars, 20-25, 23-25, 25-23, 26-24, 16-14.
"Every time we got another point and another point you could see us start to feel it," Imperiale said. "We've been through a lot of ups and downs as far as scores go. They've matured a lot and they've handled it pretty well."
After staying alive with a narrow third-game win, the Marauders (18-6) jumped out to an 8-2 lead in Game 4 then held off a late Holy Names surge in Game 5 by breaking a 14-14 tie to win the match's final two points.
"We just wanted it more," junior setter Vanessa Annoni said. "Everyone always says about us that we're good but we're young. It's almost annoying. We want to prove to everyone that we can beat other teams with seniors or whoever."
The Marauders face top-seeded Berkeley (23-2) — a three-game winner over St. Petersburg Catholic in the other semifinal, 25-6, 25-19, 25-9 — tonight at Berkeley.