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Clearwater falls in four games in the region final.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published November 4, 2005
VENICE - As Venice standout Dana Dumas watched from the bench, Clearwater seized control.
A blast from Teale Richards. A Kelsey Salava kill. An ace by Eileen Case that skipped over the net. Eight straight points.
But from the moment Dumas stood up to re-enter the match, the Tornadoes' hopes for an upset slowly faded.
Soaring over the net and banging kills hard off the floor, Dumas made sure Venice wrapped up the match before she again rotated out, leading the Braves to a 25-17, 19-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory in the Class 5A region championship.
With her team trailing 17-13, Dumas stepped to the net and destroyed the Clearwater defense to the enjoyment of a standing room only crowd. The Indians watched their only senior smash four kills and deliver a clutch block in an 8-0 run that sent the Braves to next week's final four.
"She was pretty unstoppable," Clearwater coach Tracy Sedely said. "Unfortunately we didn't have anyone to dig that."
How effective was Dumas? She had 23 kills in 28 attempts, an attack percentage of 45.
When she re-entered the match in the fourth game, Clearwater (19-3) was unable to get crucial sideouts to get Dumas rotated to the back row.
"I thought the key was when Dana was back in the front row, we made a run," said Venice coach Brian Wheatley, who picked up his 300th career win. "You have to feed the horse."
The Tornadoes couldn't slow Dumas because they struggled mightily with their serve-receive game. They were unable to get the Venice serves to the front for clean sets, often settling for just punching or bumping the ball over the net. That left the Indians (24-7) with easy passes, perfect sets and Dumas' devastating kills.
"We had some really simple errors, some mental errors that we hadn't been making," Sedely said. The loss marked the third straight year Venice put an end to Clearwater's season, and fourth time since 1997.
Clearwater had its chances though. Despite six service errors, it evened the match by winning the second game, and in the third rallied from a 21-13 deficit and served to tie at 24 before a hitting error foiled the comeback.
That momentum carried into the final game, as Clearwater jumped to a 6-1 lead. But three kills from Dumas kicked off a 12-3 run that gave Venice a 13-9 edge.
A Channing Salava point got the serve back to Clearwater and sent Dumas to the bench on rotation, sparking an 8-0 run that gave the Tornadoes a 17-13 advantage.
Kelsey Salava blocked Dumas on her first kill try back, but that was Clearwater's last gasp. The Indians used an 11-1 run to end the match.