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Lady Cougars Continue to Impress

(9/20/09) The Lady Cougars participated in a very competitive tournament this past weekend held at Pasco Hernando Community College against some nationally ranked NJCAA volleyball programs.

The CCC volleyball team opened up play against a dynasty in NJCAA volleyball national championships, Miami-Dade College (Fla.) Since 1996, the Sharks have won the national title four times and finished runner-up at the national tournament to Western Nebraska Community College in 2007. Last year they placed sixth at their national tournament. This was the second meeting between CCC and Miami Dade, and it proved again to be a strongly competitive one. Although half of Miami Dade’s team come from international programs, and all are scholarship players, Clearwater was able to hang with the very talented and athletic team to make for an exciting match.

Clearwater came out strong against the Sharks, with some outstanding defense and dominated the first game 25-16. The Miami team came back strong in game two and won 25-15. Game three went back and forth with the Cougars finally winning 26-24. During game 4 the lead changed hands several times, and CCC even had the Sharks at game point but after two CCC blocks, Miami’s big outside hitter made an incredible cut shot that tied the score 24-24. The Sharks won the final two points to win game four 26-24, forcing a fifth game. During the final set the Sharks came out big getting a 7-3 lead and never lost the lead. The Lady Cougars could not recover and eventually lost the game and the match. This was Clearwater’s first loss of their season, but Coach Denny was impressed with her team’s performance. “This was an incredible opportunity for us to play a great program. I am thrilled we played them so well. This was a repeat from last year’s match up where the Cougars took Miami to a five game set, losing in the final game. Miami Dade is one of the best programs we have ever had the chance to compete with, and we were right there with them during the entire match. I am very pleased with our total team effort tonight, especially with such a young team on the court.” Later in the evening, the Cougars defeated Lake Land College of Illinois and were 1-1 at the end of the first day of the tournament.

On the second day the Cougars came back to play State College of Florida, and won in three straight sets. This placed the Cougars into the third place game against Grand Rapids Community College, another strong NJCAA team ranked 10th in the latest poll for NJCAA Division II teams. Again, the Clearwater team matched up against a much bigger Grand Rapids team and although both teams seemed to struggle at times, the Cougars eventually won the match 3-1. Freshmen Amanda Ison and Richelle Bucklin both came up big during the match to help contribute to the victory.

Clearwater finished the day with third place out of the eight team tournament. All tournament honors went to Alyssa Hallice, Chrissie Sugimoto, and Emma Kile.