PALM HARBOR — The goal last week for Palm Harbor University was to win the PCAC championship so it could make T-shirts commemorating the accomplishment. That plan was scrapped when the Hurricanes lost to Clearwater in a semifinal.
The goal this week is to win the Class 8A, District 8 championship and make new T-shirts, and that goal remains within reach after a convincing 25-7, 25-15, 25-21 win over No. 4 seed St. Petersburg. Top seed PHU (19-7) will host Manatee at 7 p.m. Thursday for the district championship.
If the Hurricanes play like they did Tuesday night, the T-shirts could get printed.
The first game started evenly, with PHU holding a slim 6-4 lead. Then Jetta Brady served 10 straight points, which included two kills and two blocks by Naomi Mack and three aces by Brady. PHU scored 15 of 16 points to take a 23-6 lead before closing out the game on a St. Petersburg spike that landed out of bounds.
“A score of 25-7 is going to take some wind out of your sails, I don’t care how mentally tough you are,” PHU coach Tara Kuk said. “So much of it was because of our serving. They had a hard time returning and with any high school team, if you serve well and cause them to get out of system you’re going to be successful.”
PHU did not let off the gas. The Hurricanes, who have defeated the Green Devils three straight times since losing to them in the first week of the season, jumped out to a 14-4 lead in Game 2. Mack, who finished with nine kills and six blocks, continued to play well at the net.
In the third game St. Petersburg (16-11) showed life. Kaylan Marckese and Casey Houlton started to get hot and had some impressive kills. The Green Devils cut a six-point lead to 23-20. But a Brady kill and an ace by Emma Strong ended the match.
“I knew they would be a good team, but we played one of our best games tonight,” said Jazmine Barker, who had a game-high 11 kills. “We limited our errors, we put balls down, our defense was great. It was a good night.”
3A-9: Calvary on roll, will face CCC
Calvary Christian won its ninth straight match and earned its fifth consecutive sweep with a 25-21, 25-17, 28-26 win over Northside Christian in Clearwater. The Crusaders will play top seed Clearwater Central Catholic, which defeated Indian Rocks Christian 25-15, 25-13, 25-16, Thursday at Calvary Christian.
The teams traded leads in the first game. Calvary had a 20-19 lead then scored five of the last seven points thanks to aces by Savannah Plentovich and Caslin Layer and a kill by Anna Vollmer.
In the third game Calvary jumped out to a 14-3 lead. But the Mustangs stormed back and took a 22-19 lead. With the game tied at 26, Calvary scored two straight points on a block and a kill to advance.
CCC won but may have suffered a loss. Junior outside hitter Rachel Odell collided with Shea Hamilton and suffered sustained a bruised cheek and a black eye. Coach Stephen Shepherd said he hopes Odell can play Thursday.
5A-10: Lakewood, Bogie fall in sweeps
It will be an all Bradenton final after Lakewood and Boca Ciega lost semifinals Tuesday night. Lakewood lost to No. 2 seed Southeast 25-7, 25-13, 25-12. The Pirates were swept by top-seeded Bayshore.