TARPON SPRINGS — Over the weekend, the Clearwater volleyball team traveled to Gainesville where it participated in the Gator Classic, a major tournament featuring some of the state's best volleyball squads.
Despite going 2-3 and finishing 11th out of 16 teams, Clearwater benefitted from playing some of its toughest competition to date.
The tournament also helped the Tornadoes, who are starting a number of new players this season, develop a more cohesive lineup.
Back in Pinellas, Clearwater's improved play showed Tuesday against East Lake in a 25-23, 25-21, 26-24 defeat of the Eagles.
"We definitely learned from that tournament," said Clearwater senior middle hitter J'Beria Davis, who finished with 12 kills. "We definitely play as a team more, communicate, everything. We just came together when it mattered, and this game mattered."
East Lake had no answer for Davis and freshman Nikki O'Rourke, who finished with a match-high 14 kills and added six digs. The Tornadoes (6-3) used quick sets, which Davis and O'Rourke were able to power home.
East Lake appeared sluggish at the outset and fell behind 21-16 in Game 1. The Eagles (3-3) pulled to within 24-23 but lost the game on a net violation.
In Game 2, East Lake jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Clearwater rebounded to tie at 13-all. The Tornadoes never trailed the rest of the game.
At 24-all in Game 3, Davis slammed home a kill to earn match point and blocked an East Lake kill attempt to secure the victory.
"I think this is the most consistent we've played this year," Clearwater coach Tracy Sedely said. "It really shows that we're coming together a little better."