By MEL SUITER
New Port Richey, Fla. --- Tuesday night October 22, the night belonged to the sophomores that stepped out onto the court inside the gymnasium on the campus of Pasco-Hernando State College.
The pregame ceremony featured the seven sophomores that have worked hard and wore the bruises as a badge of honor. It was also a chance for the players to say thank you to their parents and to Pasco-Hernando State College volleyball coach Deann Newton for her coaching, teaching and being a friend.
At the end of the picture taking, the relaying of the flower bouquet and the tears of pride falling from everyone’s eyes involved with the ceremony, it was time to get down to business and play volleyball against Hillsborough Community College.
Thunder echoed throughout the Bobcats home affectionately known as the Gym. Hillsborough Community College opened up an offense that was complete and a defense that solidly held their ground at the net. The Hawks defeated Pasco-Hernando State College 3-0, to improve their overall record 24-6.
Newton said after the game that she was proud that her team hung in there, they continued to work hard but the Hawks defense at the net was hard to beat.
“I am not concerned- they are a division one team top team ranked No. 10 in the country, they are a good team. Over half the team are international players and they are bigger than us,” Newton said. “A positive, we were still scrappy, we played hard, we made good adjustments, we did things that are going that will help us move forward in our conference, so it was a good match, in that sense .”
The offense for the Bobcats was greeted at the net by the Hawks in the first game sending most of the Bobcats’ shots back into Pasco Hernando State College’s zone with some added velocity and that strategy continued through out the match.
Newton’s adjustment during the game was to find a way to get the ball deeper into the Hawks’ zone and create some space at the net for the Bobcats to drop the ball.
The change made by Hillsborough Community College volleyball coach Gary Larkin, was to put his strong hitters back deeper in the zone and that created a powerful hitting of the volleyball and provided the ability to return the ball back to Bobcats with some extra speed.
Larkin said after the match that he has nothing but respect for the Bobcats. He also said that Newton’s team did something in the second and third match that his team has not seen before and that the Bobcats will do well in the upcoming volleyball tournament.
“We played pretty well tonight. I felt like we were receiving pretty well so we were able to stay in the system,” Larkin said. “I tell you, I thought their defense was excellent there were some real good rallies out there tonight, I think moving into their tournament- Pasco will be just fine.”
Pasco Hernando State College was on the road in Panama City, Fla. to play Gulf Coast State College, Friday night October 25. This was their final conference game of the regular season before the Florida College System Activities Association Volleyball Tournament which is scheduled to start Saturday November 2, on the campus of South Florida State College located in Avon Park, Florida.
Unfortunately the Bobcats were defeated 3-1. Three of the sets were very close with Gulf Coast defeating PHSC by two points.
There is an eager enthusiasm for the conference tournament for the Bobcats, Newton is expecting her team to be ready, well- rested, and to be able to perform against the rest of the members of the Sun-Lake Conference.
Pasco Hernando State College could surprise some teams, if their opponent overlooks this squad of Bobcats. If they do, then Newton and her team will have no problem in packing up the trophy and celebrating the Sun-Lake Conference title.