After beating Cambridge 18-25, 27-25, 15-9 in Saturday's final of the Academy of the Holy Names Invitational, Clearwater Central Catholic coach Fabian Ardila had two messages for his squad.
"First, I told them to believe in themselves," Ardila said. "No. 2, I said, "We can play against anybody now.' "
That was how big this performance was for the Marauders, who improved to 12-5 by winning the eight-team event. Cambridge (13-3) beat CCC earlier Saturday in pool play. The field included several strong programs, among them host Holy Names.
"They played great," Cambridge coach Cindy Stenberg said.
CCC was led by Katie Ignac, a sophomore setter, and her sister, freshman outside hitter Lizzy Ignac, whom Ardila said "pounded the ball today." The squad went 2-2 in pool play but improved with every match, the coach said.
"When we're warmed up, we play like heaven," Ardila said.
Stenberg said she was pleased with Cambridge's play until the final. Cambridge beat rival Holy Names in a tight semifinal.
"Mentally, the girls really gave it their all (against Holy Names)," Stenberg said. "(Against CCC), they were playing great, but then got unfocused."
Cambridge's top players were setter Evelyn Compton, and middle hitters Sarah Kocher and Kelley Taylor.