WESLEY CHAPEL — Hudson had a section full of rowdy well-wishers dressed in Cobra red. One guy blew a horn and started the Wave.
Those fans helped stir the momentum of their team Thursday en route to the Class 4A, District 8 title in an upset of top seed and defending champion Nature Coast 25-18, 25-23, 25-22.
"We were prepared for anything," Hudson junior Cara Carley said. "When we came out here the adrenaline was crazy, and we just put it down. It's very exciting. We worked very hard to get here this year."
The Sharks entered the match having dropped just three games in district all season. Nature Coast coach Dan Murphy said the Cobras wanted it more.
"The mistakes we made were fundamental mistakes more than anything else," Murphy said. "Now we have the harder road in the district."
Nature Coast took early leads in all three games, but Hudson was always lurking with key digs, blocks or kills to get back in it. In Game 1, Hudson grabbed the lead for good at 4-3 on one of junior Lisa Kerns' seven aces.
When Hudson took an 8-7 lead in Game 2, the Sharks stayed close thanks to several Hudson errors on defense. Sharks senior Kayla Bailey gave Nature Coast a 23-22 lead with one of her eight kills. She followed that with a long hit out of bounds and a block that bounced out, putting Hudson up 24-23. Sharks freshman Courtney Liddle hit the final shot into the net, and suddenly Hudson had a swagger it had been missing since winning the district title in 2006, also against Nature Coast.
In Game 3, Nature Coast led by as many as five points, and when junior Alex Livengood scored an ace for a 20-19 lead, the Sharks appeared back in it. But Hudson outscored the Sharks 6-2.
The Cobras were led by Carley and senior Haillie Bislick, each with nine kills.