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Olympic Heights wins tourney

After going unbeated Friday, Tampa Prep loses two matches to finish third at the Tampa Bay Invitational.


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000

TAMPA -- Boca Raton Olympic Heights repeated as champion at the 16th annual Tampa Bay Invitational, but the Lions were stretched to the limit throughout the tournament.

After winning its first game in the final 15-10 over Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen, Olympic Heights got clobbered in the second game 15-6 and trailed 10-6 in the final game with rally scoring in effect.

But the Lions staved off three championship points before taking their first lead of the game at 18-17. Down the stretch, blocks by Michelle Piantadosi and powerful kills by Julia Caner kept the Lions alive.

When the McGill-Toolen's last shot went into the net, Olympic Heights (24-1) realized it had come up with a 19-17 win.

"I think we almost play better when we're behind," Lions coach Virginia Kelly said. "When we take a big lead in a game, we don't work as hard."

In their semifinal match against tournament host Tampa Prep, the Lions took an 8-0 lead in the first game but had to hold on for a 15-13 win.

In the second game, Tampa Prep pushed the Lions to the limit again, but Olympic Heights won 17-15. Amber Langston and Justeen Patton made the all-tournament team for the Terps. Sarasota Cardinal Mooney topped Tampa Prep 15-12, 15-11 for third place. After a rough round of opening pool play, defending Class 5A champion Durant (16-5) bounced back with a pair of wins to take the Bronze bracket title and ninth place.

"We struggled, but it's nice to end on a good note," Cougars coach Teri Ohme said. "Our team defense carried us today. We kept getting balls up, and our back line played awesome."

Nicole LeBlanc led the Cougars in kills with 32. Danielle Herndon, who was named to the all-tournament team, had 29. And Jenna Jordan, who made the all-tournament team at last week's Berkeley Premier Tournament, had 27.

Durant depended on Katie Kilfoile for service points, and she served up 41 in the tournament.

Plant (18-3) did not finish in last place as it did last year. The Panthers topped Tallahassee Leon to finish 15th, and Claire Colbert was named to the all-tournament second team.

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