© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- In its first three matches this season, Seminole tinkered with its lineup and went through a series of erratic performances.
The result was an 0-3 record, a surprising start for a team hoping to contend for a district title and make a run in the playoffs.
But after beating defending champion Countryside 15-11, 15-11 in the final of the Keswick Christian Invitational on Saturday, the Warhawks have become something they thought they could be all along: a dangerous and versatile outfit.
"I think the biggest thing was we've finally got into a rhythm on the court," Seminole coach Fran Cosich said. "We had struggled to find ourselves, but everyone now is accepting their role and realizing it takes a team to win and not just six people on the court."
During their slow start, Cosich tried everything to get the Warhawks back on track -- more roster changes, different offensive sets and tougher practices.
But the most invigorating tonic ended up being in the tournament, which Seminole managed to get into as a late entry after another team dropped out two days before it began.
"I really wasn't sure how we would play going in here," said Warhawks senior setter Dyionna Smith, who was the tournament MVP. "We were added on in the last minute and didn't know many of the schools we were playing. All we knew was we wanted to get some wins to turn things around."
Seminole's turnaround started earlier in the week with a victory over Dixie Hollins that snapped its losing streak. The Warhawks have not lost since.
At the Keswick Invitational, Seminole beat Palm Harbor University, Tampa Catholic and Shorecrest in pool play, Winter Park Trinity Prep in the semifinals and Countryside in the final.
Against the Cougars, the Warhawks attacked on both ends, a move that paid off early. Trailing 8-6, Seminole tied the game on a kill by Jenn Hansen and a service ace by Ashley Martin and scored seven of the final 10 points to win.
The second game was different. This time, the Warhawks were ahead 8-6 but managed to hold off a late rally.
"This is definitely a confidence booster for us and," Cosich said.
Besides Smith and Hansen, others from the county named to the all-tournament team were: Clearwater Central Catholic's Mindy Szarowicz, Countryside's Alicia Hagenau and Beverly Stasis, and Largo's Ava Miner.