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Clearwater prevails in three

Clearwater came into the Class 5A, District 9 final against Pinellas Park without some of its players and without a home. Injuries to three players forced lineup changes and damage to the Tornadoes' gymnasium forced the tournament to be moved to Countryside High.

While the circumstances were difficult, Clearwater still ended up on top.

The Tornadoes (28-0) found a way to pull out a 13-15, 15-12, 15-12 victory to win its 15th district title and extended its unbeaten streak, now as a school record.

"Wasn't that exciting?" Tornadoe coach Anne Balderson said. "What a great match. Pinellas Park played well. We played well. It was just fabulous."

As in most matches this season, Clearwater started strong, jumping to a 9-1 lead. Pinellas Park, though, turned things around with a barrage of kills from Abby Miner, Jessica Bosacki and Cassey Kerner. The Patriots scored 14 of the final 18 points to win.

Trailing by a game and in jeopardy of losing their district title, the Tornadoes regrouped in the second game, putting up another big lead and twice holding off Pinellas Park rallies.

In the deciding game, Clearwater fell behind 5-4 before scoring 10 of the next 14 points to go ahead 14-9. The Patriots cut the deficit to 14-12, but Monique Marier had a kill for sideout and Alex Sevillano served the final point.

"Losing that first game made things more fun and more interesting," Sevillano said. "We're optomistic about everything and we stepped it up."

Sevillano had 18 kills, six blocks and a service ace. Marier had eight kills, three blocks and an ace.

"We gave them too many points to win," Pinellas Park coach Hollie Miller said. "We were hitting the ball well and stayed with them, but we made too many mistakes. That was the difference."