ST. PETERSBURG ― Two volleyball teams with young players and high hopes squared off Thursday night. St. Petersburg, which won 23 matches last season and has no senior starters, swept past Shorecrest 29-27, 25-21, 25-17 in the season opener for both schools.
Shorecrest, which lost four key starters from last year’s state championship team, plays only two seniors but was competitive throughout. That was evident in Game 1, when the Chargers dug a hole late in the set but came back and almost pulled it off.
Trailing 22-18, Shorecrest rattled off six straight points to take a 24-22 lead. Middle hitter Chaise Campbell, one of the seniors, and junior Kendall Farley each had big kills in the run. But the Green Devils were able to stave off the set point thanks to a kill by Kate Youmans. Youmans then had two more kills to allow St. Petersburg to take a 25-24 lead.
Shorecrest had two more set points but was unable to finish it off. The set ended when Youmans served an ace.
“The first set was important,” Youmans said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the game.”
It did indeed. Shorecrest could never quite shake the Green Devils in the next two sets. The Chargers built early leads, but the front line of Youmans, Jenna Davis, Madelyn Davis and Jessica Halvorsen proved too much. In the second set, the Green Devils trailed by two midway through, but scored nine of the next 11 points for a 19-14 lead.
Despite cutting the lead to three points, Shorecrest could not get any closer before dropping the second set.
The third set was tied at 11 before St. Petersburg closed it out. The Green Devils scored seven straight points, highlighted by two straight kills by Davis and an ace by Livvi Harting.
“We’re a young team,” St. Petersburg coach Joseph Abad said. “They were a little nervous in the first set, but once they regrouped they were fine. They really came together. We rely a lot on Kate (Youmans) and she played well."
Youmans had 11 kills to lead the Green Devils. Campbell had seven for Shorecrest.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Youmans said. “We played the way we’ve been practicing, which is nice.”
Both teams played only one match this week. Shorecrest plays Northside Christian next Thursday. St. Petersburg faces Seminole on Tuesday and Dixie Hollins on Thursday.