ST. PETERSBURG — Keswick Christian clung to a 13-12 lead in the second game of Saturday's title match against Canterbury when Cassie Foster stepped up to serve. Her team down a set, the senior setter knew she had to do something to create momentum.
The 5-foot-5 Foster tossed the ball up, jumped high and laced an ace down the line. Then, another. Pretty soon, she had done enough to help Keswick reel off eight points and take the set 25-15.
The hosts then overcame nine unforced errors in the third set to win their own Keswick Invitational final for the first time in more than a decade, 23-25, 25-15, 15-12.
"The key was just to get a few points in there and then let the rest of my teammates work together," said Foster, named the event's most valuable player. "There's six seniors on this team, and we know we can be really good when we don't get mad at each other and we focus on leaning on one another."
Canterbury (10-1) took a one-game lead behind middle hitter Megan Burgess, who had seven kills in the first set and a match-high 16 overall. The lead changed hands seven times in the second set before Keswick (12-1) took a 13-8 lead only to see Canterbury close in to set the stage for Foster.
In the deciding set, Keswick led 9-8 when Foster served an ace then helped the Crusaders get two more points. Canterbury got within 13-12 but hitter Leah Smith served out the match, including hitting the final kill.
"I was freaking out a bit, but the crowd really helped me focus and gain composure," said Smith, who, with teammate Alexa Dietz, was named to the all-tournament team.
Others on the all-tournament team: Burgess, Mansie Hough, Alexis Conway (Canterbury), Olivia Yeager, Amber Rubright (Cambridge), Amanda Mirabella (Bayshore Christian), Jen Hyer (St. Petersburg Catholic), Rachel Mostert (Lakeside Christian) and Sami Spidell (Boca Raton).