Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

Unbeaten Osceola doesn’t miss a beat in claiming district crown

The Warriors keep a smaller Boca Ciega squad guessing while winning in straight sets.
Osceola remains unbeaten on the season and claims the district crown. [CHUCK FRYE | Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 18

SEMINOLE — When you see the backs of your opponents’ uniforms more than the front, that’s usually a good sign.

Facing a scrappy but vertically-challenged Boca Ciega squad Thursday for the Class 5A, District 7 championship, host Osceola’s offense was a precise and powerful six-cylinder engine driving to a convincing 25-13, 25-11, 25-13 victory.

After earlier locking down its eighth straight appearance in regionals, Osceola was able to stretch its unbeaten season to 23 matches with the title triumph.

Perhaps the most unusual part of this matchup was that the finalists didn’t face each other during the regular season.

“We had no district games this season,” said Warriors rookie head coach Ashley Martin. “We were lucky and played (Bogie) in the St. Petersburg College preseason tournament 2½ months ago, and they were definitely improved (Thursday), a more disciplined team. They hustled, played tough team defense and really made us work.”

RELATED: There’s plenty of fun in going undefeated. Just ask Osceola

Sophomore Neveah Wright (four blocks) and junior Lauren Six helped the maturing Pirates (12-12 record to date) stay competitive, but Osceola combined savvy work from setters junior Kyla Barker and sophomore Nicole Fowler with a daunting net presence to roll to its 14th straight head-to-head win.

“It’s a lot of fun to play over the net against a smaller team,” said quad-captain Kalli Cors, a force for the Warriors with 11 kills, five aces and a block. “We had the opportunity to run a bunch of plays and really swing a lot harder than I usually can. We’re able to spread the ball around easier — our setter (Barker, who finished with 15 assists) is improved and really good at distributing the ball to our middle and right-side hitters. That makes us harder to defend because our setters can be so creative with their choices.”

“We have five hitters on the floor from the back row to the front row,” Martin said. “They're ready at all times, and it wears out our opponents that have to defend the entire court and guess who we're playing the ball to.”

Osceola also put together at least one dominating run to break open competitive sets.

An ace from Fowler and four straight from Cors created an 8-1 run to close out the first set. After a Wright block and some errant Warrior returns sliced a six-point second-set lead to two, Fowler ran off 10 straight service points with a pair of aces to break things wide open. And after aces from junior Lindy Boyan and Wright drew the Pirates even at 9-9 in the third, aces from Cors and senior Abbie Busch sparked a 10-1 run that essentially locked up the district championship.

“Our offense is nothing without good passing and good serving,” Martin said. “We work on that constantly in practice.”

And with regionals not starting until Oct. 23, Osceola will be looking to fine tune its game even further.

“We'll be looking to cut out some errors and get comfortable with swinging against taller teams that can block us,” Martin explained. “St. Petersburg and Palm Harbor did that (to us this year) but we don't see it a lot, so the coaches and our male coaches will be out there at practice to give the girls different looks to work through.”

“We won districts my freshman year but finished second the past two years,” said Cors, a senior. “It was a big goal of mine to win (Thursday), and now that we’re hosting a first-round game — and hopefully more after that — that brings a lot of pride to our school, our fans and our faculty.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. There's no doubt Kobe Knox and Tampa Catholic have one of the toughest boys basketball schedules in the state ... possibly the nation. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The contenders, like the Tampa Catholic boys and defending state champ Tampa Bay Tech girls, aren’t leaving their fates to just district matchups.
  2. Northside Christian did not have an answer for Seffner Christian receiver Michael Trigg, who burned the Mustangs for five touchdowns in the teams’ Class 2A, Region 3 semifinal. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Sunday Morning Quarterback: Rematch revenge, prolific offensive outings, road warriors and more from the region semifinals.
  3. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Warriors take the lead for good with less than four minutes to play in knocking off top-seeded Sarasota Riverview.
  4. Northside Christian did not have an answer for Seffner Christian receiver Michael Trigg, right, during Friday's Class 2A region semifinal. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The duo accounts for five touchdowns as the Crusaders roll past Northside Christian.
  5. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Blue Jackets also get revenge for a regular-season loss to the Lancers.
  6. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Hawks and Bloomingdale both have trouble holding on to the ball, but defense again is key for Armwood.
  7. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    Everything clicks per usual for the unbeaten Spartans, who were coming off a bye week and will face Tampa Catholic next.
  8. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    Johnny Newton scores all three Marauders’ touchdowns in extra time as CCC dispatches Berkeley Prep.
  9. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Packers do a good job of containing Kyeandre Magloire, but the same can’t be said of Lake Minneola’s quarterback.
  10. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Titans aren’t intimidated by powerhouse Lakeland, always within striking distance (if not in the lead) before falling by a touchdown.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement