The sky is blue, the days are hot and Hudson rules the Pasco County volleyball roost.
Fighting off a challenge from a team Pasco County coaches tabbed as a favorite to unseat the Cobras, host Hudson showed there is still some distance between No. 1 and the competition with a convincing 15-10, 15-8 win Tuesday over Ridgewood.
"We thought we were pretty good," Hudson outside hitter Nikki Prack said. "But everyone was asking what are you going to do without Jill (Perez, an all-state setter)."
Keep winning? While they struggled early in each game and are still trying to round into their form of the past few seasons, the Class 4A, No. 4-ranked Cobras stormed back each time before a sizable home crowd to put away the Rams.
"Hudson is infamous for coming back (after a slow start)," Cobras coach Linda McQuade said. "It was a good game for us to see what we can do."
If Hudson is infamous for its slow starts, Ridgewood is becoming the same for its slow finishes. It was outscored 7-0 and 12-1 to close out games last week in its first loss of the season to Palm Harbor U., and Tuesday it allowed the Cobras to do similar damage. A 6-2 lead in Game 1 and a 3-0 edge in Game 2 were wiped out by 10-point runs.
The first big run coincided with Alison Baker's rotation to the front row. The 6-foot-1 middle hitter had two kills and one block to get Hudson to within 6-5 before Kelly Aguis' ace tied the game. After a few sideouts, Baker served six consecutive points as sophomore Tarah Marinelli had two kills and a two-handed set for a point.
In the final game, Hudson's Jen Hobbs served six consecutive points to keep the Rams (3-2) from mounting an early attack. However, after trailing 10-3, the Rams did pull to within 10-7 before Baker had two crushing kills and a block for a 14-7 game.
Hobbs wrapped up the match with a kill from midcourt. Because only the first match with each Sunshine Athletic Conference team counts toward the standings, the Rams' SAC hopes were dealt a serious blow. Hudson is now 4-0 in the SAC while Ridgewood is 3-1.