CLEARWATER — Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly could only shake her head in disbelief.
Already hamstrung with starting libero Alexis Rouselle nursing a severe ankle sprain sustained a day earlier against St. Petersburg and facing its toughest challenge to date in Palm Harbor University, Bayly couldn't believe her luck Wednesday when starting right-side hitter Megan Siminski fell during warmups.
Siminski, who said she felt a pop in her knee, hobbled to the sideline and spent the game watching from the bench, her left leg wrapped and propped up on a row of chairs.
The injury, however, didn't seem to affect the Cougars. Gia Tomossone filled in for Siminski, Rouselle gutted out the match, and the Countryside volleyball machine kept rolling in a 25-19, 25-21, 27-25 victory.
"It's kind of like a daily occurrence now with going to the doctor," Bayly said. "I got a little nervous when (Siminski) went down because we're not very deep."
Instead, it was Palm Harbor U. that played like a team out of sorts, at least early. The Hurricanes had their own injury to deal with after starting middle hitter Allyson Henning rolled her ankle Tuesday in practice and sat out Wednesday's match.
"We knew they were a good team coming in; we just weren't on tonight," PHU coach Tara Kuk said. "It was like a struggle to click, and normally that isn't the case."
Countryside (8-0) led wire-to-wire in Game 1, taking advantage of sluggish play from the Hurricanes. Game 2 was tight until, at 6-all, Countryside reeled off five straight points — four of which came off Madison Truluck kills — to take control.
PHU (5-1) sprinted out to a 5-0 lead in Game 3, but Countryside answered right back to tie at 5. The Cougars appeared to have the match wrapped up at 23-17; however, the Hurricanes eventually tied the game at 24-all. Truluck's ace wrapped up the victory.
The senior duo of Truluck and setter Sara Wright was consistently effective. Wright, the Cougars' only setter, had 97 assists and fed Truluck for a game-high 16 kills.
"We overcame the adversity tonight," Bayly said. "The team didn't let (the injuries) bother them."
Countryside def. PHU
25-19, 25-21, 27-25