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PHU sets record with tournament victory

The Hurricanes win the Keswick Invitational for the fourth consecutive year.

By BRANDON WRIGHT
Published September 17, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - One streak continued and another came to a halt Saturday as Palm Harbor University defeated Indian Rocks Christian 25-18, 25-20 to win the Keswick Invitational volleyball tournament.

The Hurricanes won the tournament for a record fourth consecutive year - all under coach Tara Kuk - and PHU junior Mallory Kiley was named the tournament's most valuable player.

"We wanted to win this really bad for the seniors," Kiley said. "And to set a record at the tournament is pretty cool."

The loss ended IRC's undefeated streak (12-1), but coach Mark Foster was pleased with his team's showing at the tournament.

"We lost to a good team today," he said. "But we had a good run and hopefully will get better from the experience."

PHU (12-1) used a crippling run late in Game 1, scoring the final nine points. Rachel Namm served out during that stretch, and Kuk said that was the difference.

"Early in that game we were serving to their targets and putting their big hitters in good position," she said. "But our serving got aggressive toward the end and put them on their heels."

An 8-2 run midway through Game 2 put PHU ahead for good, and Margo Sultenfuss split a pair of blockers for the championship-winning kill.

"It's pretty surreal," Kuk said of the record-setting win. "You never know what to expect heading into a tournament like this, but the girls were very motivated from day one."

Kiley finished with nine kills, while Rachael Jelnicky recorded seven more and added three solo blocks. Sydney Miller, last year's MVP, had 19 assists. Miller and Namm made the all-tournament team, as did IRC's Tabitha Henley and Brianne Yeates.

Bayshore Christian defeated Mitchell 25-23, 22-25, 15-8 to finish in third place. The Faith Warrior's Adria Mullaney and Heather Johnson also made the all-tournament team.