St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Confident Clearwater wins state

The Tornadoes roll over Hudson to capture the 4A volleyball championship they expected to win.


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- The Clearwater High volleyball team always has displayed a we-had-them-all-the-way attitude.

That never was more apparent than during the Tornadoes' Class 4A state championship match against Hudson on Saturday.

After Clearwater won 15-12, 15-6, the players piled on one another at center court at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, then headed back to the sideline, where they put on T-shirts that proclaimed them state champions.

"Even though we had a few speed bumps along the way, I wanted the players to believe that they can walk out on the court and play with anybody, regardless of classification," coach Lynn Hallmark said.

"They displayed that attitude. I've never been around a group of players that was able to focus like that and be able to put off outside distractions." Such assuredness comes from Clearwater's experience. The Tornadoes made their fourth final four appearance in the past five years and were trying to win their first state title since 1997.

Four of the five senior starters -- Melanie Custer, Katy Barber, Emily McDaniel and Kara Betourne -- were freshmen when Clearwater won its first championship. Finishing their prep careers with another crown seemed in doubt a month ago when the Tornadoes lost matches to county rivals Countryside and East Lake in successive weeks and fell from No. 1 in the 4A state poll to No. 2. The team that took over the top spot was Hudson.

Clearwater had a week and a half off after the loss to East Lake, and Hallmark used the time to practice fundamentals and allow injured players to heal. Stronger, focused and injury-free, the Tornadoes swept through the post-season and turned their attention to Hudson.

Initially, not everyone was confident about the final. Melissa Johnson woke up at 6 a.m. Saturday with an uneasy feeling. She was worried about how she and her teammates were going to stop Hudson middle hitter Alison Baker. Barber reassured her everything was going to be okay.

"I said, "Don't worry about that Alison Baker. Just hit the line today,' " Barber said.

Down 3-0 in the first game, the Tornadoes stopped the 6-foot Baker with a sideout and quieted Hudson's rowdy supporters. Then a rally started as Barber scored five consecutive points off serves to put the Tornadoes ahead. Clearwater maintained the lead and held off a late Hudson comeback to win.

In the second game, the Tornadoes trailed 4-3 before scoring five in a row to go ahead for good. McDaniel, the tournament MVP, produced five of Clearwater's final seven points to seal the victory.

McDaniel finished with eight kills and two blocks. Johnson, named to the all-tournament team, had five kills.

"This team is a lot like the one in 1997 because everyone told us we couldn't win a state title," McDaniel said. "Well, we did that year. People said it couldn't be done again, and we did it again."

For Barber, the result never was in doubt.

"The only question I think all of the seniors had coming in here was which finger we'd put the ring on now that we have two," she said.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk

Hubert Mizell
  • In politics, sports it's not over ...

  • Gary Shelton
  • Stars align for Palmer's night

  • Bucs
  • Scream team
  • No replacing experience
  • Together from the beginning
  • Once again, Abraham seeing tough road to the Pro Bowl
  • Bucs chat
  • On his way to game No. 200, McDaniel 'not extinct yet'
  • Best and worst: game 10
  • Buccaneers by the numbers
  • Analysis: Bill Maas
  • Buccaneers quick hits
  • Love of game unites Sapp, Favre

  • College football
  • Gators SECure East
  • Bad start, bad finish for Bulls
  • Seminoles hope win is enough
  • UM focus: W-I-N, not B-C-S
  • College football this week on TV
  • Louisville WR sets receptions mark
  • Florida Classic calendar
  • College football around the state
  • USF sideliners
  • Blackwell's INT-free streak ends
  • RB carnage forces re-education
  • FSU sideliners
  • Sheppard continues to amaze
  • UF sideliners
  • Rhine's 26-yard run chases boos away

  • Lightning
  • Lightning winning streak ends at 3
  • Slap shots
  • Lightning wants a recount of shots
  • Players union keeping an eye on Kravchuk deal

  • Sports Etc.
  • Arizona's Woods has good times
  • Confident Clearwater wins state
  • Highs and lows
  • Mizell mailbag
  • Skier quits team, goes for gold on her own
  • Sports briefs
  • Millionaire crybabies
  • College basketball top 25 predictions
  • College basketball this week on TV
  • Florida, FSU meet in NCAA Tournament
  • College basketball briefs
  • Atlanta hits Hawk bottom with 0-7 start
  • NFL games
  • Jaguars have reasons not to declare season over
  • NASCAR binding family ties
  • No jitters for Jarrett last year
  • Gordon foils Martin's Busch series finale
  • Powerboat circuit looks to NASCAR as its model
  • On the fly
  • Tournament insider
  • Vikings outdistance District 7 opponents
  • Struggling Moffenbier's victory is like clock work
  • Citrus becomes regional champ in due course
  • Jesuit, AHN cruise to 2A-3 victories
  • Rams continue run at another state title
  • Sickles runs to state berth
  • IRC pulls off upset to win A-3 championship
  • Seminole has little problem reaching state
  • Marauder shows her kick in victory
  • Indian Rocks pulls off upset to win A-3 title
  • Jesuit captures district title
  • Ramirez wish rings a Belle for Indians

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts