PLANT CITY — If emotion were a deciding factor in an athletic event, Newsome would have won in a landslide Thursday. From the fans, who outshouted the Armwood fans, to the players who were loose and happy throughout the match, to the coach, with tears spilling out of her eyes, explaining, "I'm just so emotional."
But a seasoned Armwood program came away with the 5A-8 championship in the 21-25, 25-16, 25-14, 26-24, 15-12 victory.
For Armwood, this was old hat. Its third district title in eight years, the team went about its task with the professionalism of champions who have been there before.
The Hawks were once again led by the county's top hitter, Emilee Taylor, who had 36 kills.
"She is not just part of the team, she is the team," Armwood coach Mike Wyatt said of Taylor. "Her presence on the court and off the court is unbelievable; she is the best leader I have ever had."
In the crucial fifth game Taylor was responsible for 10 of the 15 possible points, including seven kills, two dinks and an ace, which was the deciding point.
The Wolves played more of a standard team style.
"I've got five seniors on this team; not one stands above the other as a leader," first-year coach Kate Correa said.
The Newsome faithful spurred the Wolves to the first-set victory and almost carried them the rest of the way, but Taylor was just too much.
The Wolves weren't without their superstars. Correa praised the play of Jen Worth.
"Jen played phenomenal tonight, Correa said.