After eight regular-season games, only four of nine eighth-grade volleyball teams were eliminated from championship contention.
So with Stewart (3-5), Pine View (2-6), Pasco (1-7) and Gulf (0-8) out of the picture, the others battled for the Pasco County Middle School Athletic Conference crown. The round-robin series, played Oct. 20 at Seven Springs, included Bayonet Point, Hudson, River Ridge, Seven Springs and Weightman, all of which went 6-2.
"Every team had the opportunity to win it," Seven Springs athletic director Ken Barber said. "They were close games. There were no blowouts. It was just who was psyched up more."
Hudson, which has rallied from poor starts for two straight years, took the title. The Cobras overcame an 0-4 start to finish 3-5 as seventh-graders. This year, as eighth-graders, they rallied from a 1-2 beginning to win five straight matches in the regular season and two in the playoffs.
"They were kind of down, but I kept telling them, realistically, they were the best team in the county," Hudson coach Mac Conrad said.
The Cobras rewarded their coach's confidence by defeating Weightman 15-13, 15-12 in the first round before a 15-11, 15-5 win over River Ridge for the championship.
Crystal Sizemore helped Hudson beat Weightman with 11 points off serves in the second game. Against River Ridge, the Cobras rallied behind the strong serves of Megan Santana, tough defense by Sneha Kumar, and Jeanie Bacon's all-around play.
Hudson's other key players in the series were Kelly Aguis, Katrina Maharaj and Sarah Sommerfeld.
"It's probably something they're going to remember for a long time," Conrad said of his players winning the volleyball crown. "First of all, they have the skills. But they also learned how to play as a team."
Playoffs were not necessary for the seventh-grade teams. River Ridge finished a perfect 8-0 to take first place.
Bayonet Point finished second at 7-1 while Pine View and Seven Springs tied for third with 5-3 records. Pasco went 4-4, Gulf 3-5, Hudson and Weightman each 2-6, and Stewart 0-8.