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'CANES ON SAME PAGE

Communication, or lack thereof, was a glaring problem for Palm Harbor University in a five-game loss to Countryside to open the season last week.

So the Hurricanes spent the rest of the week reacquainting themselves in a way. They practiced talking to one another on the court and focused on working out the kinks from a lackluster performance.

That effort paid big dividends Tuesday in a 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 victory at Clearwater.

"We've been stressing (communication) a lot," PHU coach Tara Kuk said. "When that breaks down, the rest of it breaks down too, so we've really been working on that becoming more natural because it's not natural for some of our girls."

PHU (2-1) scratched out a narrow victory in a back-and-forth Game One. The Hurricanes took a 15-10 lead midway though. Clearwater (1-1) evened the score at 22, but consecutive kills by Cassie Roy and Sammy Eichelberger gave PHU the all-important first game.

The Hurricanes opened sizable leads in games two and three to close out an impressive win.

"We just wanted to prove to people that we were better than what we showed last week at the Countryside match," said Roy, who had a quiet night, finishing with six kills.

PHU setter Cassie Wilkinson distributed the ball to a number of Hurricanes. Junior middle Leah McNary had a team-high 11 kills for PHU while Chelsea King (seven kills) and Sammy Eichelberger (six) also got in on the action.

PHU's serving kept Clearwater off balance. The Hurricanes had 14 aces, led by CarrieShea Showalter's seven.

"They served the ball very aggressively, and they serve-received with some nice tempo," first-year Clearwater coach Joe Dixon said.

For Dixon, the result wasn't the desired outcome but there was plenty to be learned in defeat.

"You've got to find who the leaders are. We're in that stage," Dixon said. "We had some good swings from Jennifer Opper on the right side. Jen likes to compete. Jen takes charge in tough points and the girls responded. You don't see that in practice because you can't always replicate this type of pace in practice.

"We have to get a little bit more confident in the back row. I think they're competent enough, but once we get confidence I think we can cruise a little bit."

* * *

Osceola def. Tarpon Springs

23-25, 13-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-12

Osceola improved to 3-0 with a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over Tarpon Springs (0-3) at home.

Morgan O'Malia led the offensive charge for Osceola after recording 12 kills. She also had three aces.

Katelyn Murphy had five blocks and served three aces for the Warriors, who rallied from a 2-0 hole.

"We figured out how to defend against them and we played smarter," Osceola coach Michele Copello said. "Our determination went up as the match wore on."

For more results, check out tampabay.com/hometeam.

Up next:HEADING HOME

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