PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University took note Tuesday as East Lake struggled to get past 5A-9 semifinal opponent Tarpon Springs.
Watching from the stands following its three-game sweep of Clearwater, the Hurricanes witnessed an Eagles squad out of synch. Like sharks, the Hurricanes could smell blood in the water. Thursday in the district final, PHU devoured East Lake 25-21, 25-17, 25-15.
"We knew from watching that match that we wanted it way more than they did," said PHU's Chelsea King, who had five kills. "We communicated well and really played together as a team."
The victory gives PHU (23-3) its first district title. The Hurricanes avoid a matchup with 5A power Plant in the region quarterfinals.
"We've been real close a couple times," PHU coach Tara Kuk said. "It's just awesome. To beat Clearwater in three and East Lake in three is really something that I didn't even imagine at the beginning of the year."
Led by Michele Gentry's 13 digs and Morgan Kosterlitz's 13 blocks, the Hurricanes put together their finest defensive performance of the season. PHU led wire to wire in Game 1. East Lake (17-8) sprinted to a 9-3 advantage in Game 2 before the Hurricanes ran off 10 straight points to take the lead for good. PHU jumped ahead 8-2 in Game 3 and was never threatened.