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Volleyball Team Places Third at Pasco Hernando Tournament

(9/22/2008) The Lady Cougars participated in a very competitive tournament this past weekend held at Pasco Hernando Community College against some strong NJCAA volleyball programs.

The CCC volleyball team opened up play against Indian River Community College and took three straight sets. The next match placed CCC against Miami Dade Community College, a dynasty in NJCAA volleyball national championships. Miami-Dade College (Fla.) began the 2008 NJCAA Division I Volleyball season ranked No. 1 in the nation. Since 1996, the Sharks have won the national title four times and finished runner-up at the national tournament to Western Nebraska Community College last season. This was the first meeting ever between CCC and Miami Dade, and it proved to be a good one.

Clearwater came out strong against the Sharks, and totally dominated the first game 25-11. Although somewhat shocked and caught off guard by the quick offense of the Cougars, the Miami team came back strong in game two and three, winning 25-22 and 25-20. Game four belonged to the CCC team as they fought back and won 25-22, forcing a fifth game. During the final set the lead changed hands several times as the strong hitting Miami team kept hitting the ball hard, with CCC playing great defense and keeping the game close. In the end, the Cougars lost 14-16 dropping their first match of the season. Coach Denny said, “This was an incredible opportunity for us to play a great program. I am thrilled we played them so well. This has to be one of the best teams CCC has ever had the opportunity to play, and we were right there with them until the very end. I am very pleased with our total team effort tonight.” The Cougars were 1-1 at the end of the first day of the tournament.

On the second day the Cougars came back against Parkland College from Champaign, Illinois, another strong NJCAA team ranked fifth in the preseason polls for NJCAA Division II teams. Again, the Clearwater team matched up against a much bigger Parkland team and played incredible back row defense by Chrissie Sugimoto, Laura Banks and Ashley Lawson, winning game one 25-22. Games two and three were won by Parkland 25-22 and 25-16. During game four Coach Denny tried a new lineup to increase the offensive attack putting freshman Emma Kile on the outside and Summer Jelsma back in the middle. Although falling behind early in the set, the team fought back point by point and eventually won 25-23 ending with a solid shot down the line from Alyssa Hallice to win game four, and forcing yet another five game match. This time the Cougars got off to a fast start with great defense and offense and never looked back. They won the final set 15-6.

The final match of the tournament put CCC against Palm Beach Community College. The Lady Cougars won 25-16; 25-17; 25-9. This gave Clearwater a third place finish out of the eight team tournament. All tournament honors went to Alyssa Hallice, Chrissie Sugimoto, and freshman Emma Kile.

The team will travel to Warner Southern on Thursday before hosting Florida College at home on Friday. Their record so far this season is 18-1.