EAST LAKE ― Osceola remains the area’s only undefeated team, but it wasn’t easy.
After sweeping Palm Harbor University in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference tournament semifinal Wednesday night, the Warriors had to come back from a one-set deficit in the final to defeat St. Petersburg 22-25, 25-20, 16-14. It’s the second time this season Osceola (17-0) has defeated the Green Devils (21-3).
It’s also the second tournament the Warriors have won in as many weeks. Last week they went 5-0 to win the Fivay tournament.
“Coming off the Fivay tournament we knew it was going to be difficult because we have a bigger bull’s eye on our back,” first-year Osceola coach Ashley Martin said. “We gave St. Pete their first loss so we knew they wanted to give us our first loss. We knew it would be an exciting game.”
St. Petersburg was not going to make things easy. The Green Devils jumped out to a 6-2 lead and held the advantage the entire set. They didn’t allow the Warriors to score more than two straight points until it became 23-16. Then Osceola started to get it going, but it was too late.
The Warriors scored four straight points, highlighted by an ace and a kill by Sandy Cao, to make it 23-20. But an errant kill attempt and a service error ended the set.
Osceola got off to a better start in the second set but didn’t pull away from St. Petersburg until late. Trailing 16-15, Osceola scored four straight on consecutive kills by Olivia Dal Sasso and two straight aces by Kalli Cors. It never got closer than four points from there and the set ended on a Cors kill.
That set up a nerve-racking third set. The teams basically traded points until the Warriors got some separation at 10-7. But St. Petersburg came right back on a kill by Jordan Bunce and a block by Kate Youmans that made it 13-12 Green Devils. The match was tied at 14-14 after an errant kill attempt by the Warriors.
From there, Cors had a kill and an ace ended the match.
“Winning this was one of our many goals for this season,” Cors said. “It’s my senior year. I want to go out with a bang.”
Osceola has a match at Anclote on Thursday night, then three more matches next week to finish off the regular season. St. Petersburg plays Clearwater on Thursday, then takes a week off before the district tournament.