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Short-handed Hudson pulverizes Ridgewood

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- It was Ridgewood's Senior Night. The Rams promised to avenge an earlier loss. The match was in their gym. And the opponent, Hudson, was without one of its best players in Nikki Prack, out with an injury.

Add it all up and you get ... the most decisive Cobra victory of the season?

How's that for fuzzy math? Class 4A No. 1-ranked Hudson closed out its regular season with a performance so dominating and so thorough that it took just 30 minutes to complete the 15-5, 15-2 rout.

"I'm not really surprised," said middle hitter Alison Baker, who had 15 kills in arguably her most dominant outing of the year. "We did this for Nikki." Ridgewood (17-5) was never in the match. From the opening minutes, the Rams repeatedly made mistakes and failed at passing, crippling their offense. They fell behind 5-0, with four points coming off their own errors. After a rally to get within 6-4, they were outscored 24-3 the rest of the match.

"We were really, really pumped up for this game," Hudson senior Kelly Qualtiere said. "We really wanted to win this one, even if it didn't count for conference or districts. We've known all those girls since middle school. It's always fun to play them."

Baker put an exclamation point on Game 1 with a big block of Ashley Morrison to close it out, and Jen Hobbs served the final six points. After Ridgewood took a 1-0 lead in the second game, Hobbs served the next 11 points as Hudson rolled. In the 11-0 run, Baker had eight kills, including five in a row. Instead of a sixth, she stuffed Brandy Krieg then had another kill to top off the run.

"A lot of how well I did is because of our passers," Baker said. "They did a great job getting the ball right to the setter. You could feel that the momentum shifted, and we didn't let up."

The Rams didn't put up a fight. Coach Marlyn Bavetta said she scheduled the match intentionally to serve as a tuneup for next week's district tournament, but that might have backfired.

Prack, third in Pasco County with 109 kills, injured her left ankle at practice earlier this week, and her status is uncertain for the district tournament. She was on crutches Thursday but said she hopes to play. Kathleen Cook started in Prack's place and played well. With her team leading 13-2, Cook smashed a kill off two Ram blockers for sideout. Tarah Marinelli then stuffed Krieg to set up game point, and Cook banged another kill of a Ram block.

"I thought (coming in) that they were going to play us hard," coach Linda McQuade said. "We came to play. What can I say?"

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