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Countryside wakes up, cruises to PCAC title

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


CLEARWATER -- With its homecoming dance Saturday night, Lakewood was supposed to be the team with all of the distractions during the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship match.

Yet it was host Countryside that had wide serves, errant passes and an early deficit.

Down 8-4 in the first game, Cougars coach Kaylyn Bayly had seen enough.

She called timeout.

"I have no idea what was going on out there," Bayly said. "We weren't moving our feet; weren't hitting our serves; the list goes on and on. We were just flat. So I told them if they didn't want to be out there, I could send in players from the bench. You know, whatever it takes."

Apparently, that's all it took. Countryside got the message and responded by scoring 25 of the final 26 points of the match for a 15-9, 15-0 victory. The win marked the first time the Cougars have won a conference title in school history.

"We weren't playing like ourselves," Countryside freshman Katelen Dixon said. "But we brought ourselves up and concentrated. We knew we couldn't be behind to this team."

Led by Dixon, the Cougars weren't behind for long. With fellow freshman Beverly Stasis serving, Dixon provided the offense in the first game with four consecutive kills for points to tie the match.

After the Spartans scored to make it 9-8, Dixon got a kill for a sideout then another kill for a point. Countryside had the momentum and scored the final six points to close out the game. The second game was no match. Lakewood forced only three sideouts as the Cougars needed just 15 minutes to win. This time, Dixon's serving was the key. She had three consecutive aces. Carly Brieske added two aces for Countryside.

The Spartans came with a sparse lineup. Some players decided to attend the homecoming dance rather than play in the PCAC match, and that left them few reserves.

Those who played left immediately afterward.

"I know it was tough for them," said Bayly, who coached at Lakewood for seven seasons before coming over to Countryside last year. "And as for us, I don't think our kids meant it, but we probably took the match lightly. We can't do that."

Countryside (23-3), ranked fifth in the Class 5A state poll, has gotten through the grueling part of its schedule by beating Clearwater, East Lake and Palm Harbor University in the past two weeks. But there is no time to rest for the Cougars. They play in the district tournament this week.

"We've had some tough matches, but we haven't played particularly well since we beat Clearwater for some reason," Bayly said.

"So we need the two days of practice before districts begin. We need to get better."

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