HUDSON — The annual trip to South Florida proved to be more than just another volleyball tournament.
Hudson's players were still getting to know their new coach, Shayna Munson. The trip proved to be perfect mix of volleyball and downtime.
Munson let her hair down, playing cards with the girls and games such as "man hunt," which is basically a variation of hide-and-seek.
The girls saw a different side of their new coach, and her willingness to show a softer side helped earn their trust.
It culminated in Hudson's second consecutive district title Thursday with a win against rival Ridgewood, 25-16, 25-18, 22-25, 25-14 to take the Class 4A, District 7 first-place trophy.
"The team itself was close," Cobras libero Jessica Christianson said. "But that trip really helped us. … She was so much fun. She was more than a strict coach, more like a friend."
The camaraderie was obvious through Hudson's district tournament. There were plenty of smiles to go around, and it helped that the Cobras (24-3) entered Thursday having won 18 straight games.
No. 2 seed Ridgewood (19-8), which had been swept in two prior meetings with top-seeded Hudson, was hoping for an upset. The Rams came out fired up in Game 1, and it was nip-tuck for a good portion of the game before Hudson took the lead for good, outscoring the Rams 16-8.
Game 2 was more of the same before Hudson seized a 15-14 lead, then outscored the Rams 10-4 for a two-game lead.
Ridgewood clawed back to take Game 3 despite trailing 21-20 at one point. But it was all Hudson in Game 4 after the Cobras broke out to a 7-1 lead.
Hudson was led by Christianson's 25 digs. Jessica Imbimbo had 15 kills, Katy McGee had 12 and Cara Carley added 10.
Ridgewood was led by senior Sarangelys Cruz (10 kills) and junior Lauren Vanker (12 kills, 11 blocks).
"It's a big deal to me and the team (to win the title)," Munson said. "We've been working so hard in practice. Each game now, our record is 0-0. It doesn't matter what happened in what I call the 'preseason.' … (Our record) means nothing now. That was our practice time."
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 421-3886.