EAST LAKE — As Haley Barrett's serve landed untouched to close out the fifth game of the PCAC final against East Lake on Wednesday, her Clearwater teammates barely had the energy to celebrate. The Tornadoes needed five games in their semifinal against Palm Harbor University, and it took another five to get past a feisty Eagles team.
Clearwater fought fatigue and a game East Lake squad to win 25-23, 21-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-6 for the PCAC championship.
"We're PCAC champions and we're excited, but I think we're too tired to be excited," Clearwater coach Kara Betourne said. "We played 10 of a possible 10 games. I think this all stemmed from the Palm Harbor game. We were down two and it looked bleak in the third.
"But the girls had another idea. They decided they wanted it."
The final four did not turn out as expected. Aside from No. 3 seed Clearwater's upset of No. 2 PHU, No. 1 St. Petersburg was beaten by No. 4 East Lake in four. That set up a showdown of the lower seeds.
The first game featured six ties, including 22-22. From that point, Clearwater's Sam Reeves took over with two kills in the final three points to help the Tornadoes close it out.
The second game changed dramatically with East Lake (13-10) trailing 16-11. The Eagles went on a 9-0 run behind the serving of Madison Davis and frontline play of Sierra McComeskey, Shannon Farley and Rachel Cornatzer.
In the third, Clearwater (22-5) used a 6-0 run to take a 20-14 lead. From there, Reeves took over with two kills and a block to help the Tornadoes take a 2-1 lead.
East Lake then jumped out to a 21-11 lead in the fourth game and looked like it would cruise. Clearwater whittled the margin to 23-22 but couldn't take the lead, and a kill from Farley closed out the game.
In the fifth Clearwater scored the final six points — the final three aces by Barrett.
Palm Harbor University won the consolation 25-17, 25-21, 25-18 over St. Petersburg.