Written and photographed by Robert Gale
Warm Ups and before 1st Set
On September 29, 2016, St. Petersburg College, Lady Titans were all pumped up on their home court playing their first volleyball conference match verses Hillsborough Community College Lady Hawks. According to Head Coach Scott White of SPC, he says, “HCC is ranked first in the state and sixth in the nation; I do not take anything lightly. This will be a huge match for us. They are playing very well the last time I saw them and we are playing and practicing great so I am excited for this match.” This will be a very big victory beating their local Tampa Bay rival.
Around 40 minutes on the clock till the beginning of the first period, the girls warmed up by returning the volleyball to each other. After that, they took turns spiking the ball over the net as well as blocking each other’s shots. One of the Lady Titan’s biggest fan, Bob Stiles said, “They are going to do a lot better now because the conference has started. They are going to win all of their games!”
Before the National Anthem, Nina Teidt, #14 from Schweirn, Germany, shared a few words. She said, “I am really excited for this first conference game and we practiced really hard. We did very well in practice so I am really excited to show what we can do.”
The Lady Titans, as customary, saluted the flag during the National Anthem as well as each one of them had their names and jersey numbers introduced. The SPC Lady Titans welcomed the HCC Lady Hawks by greeting them at the net tapping their hands in a single file line. Both teams gathered together in the huddle boosting excitement before the match. Screaming at the top of their lungs, the Titans roared. “Titans on three, Titans on three! One, two, three, TITANS!” This officially started the beginning on the match.
In the beginning of the first set the Lady Titans played strong by blocking several spikes of the ball by the Lady Hawks. SPC#10 (Beatriz Vieira ) showed her prowess by spiking the ball into HCC territory. As the 1st period continued to play out, HCC was not able to return or block the volleyball successfully. It appeared that HCC underestimated SPC for their level of teamwork as well as for their level of organization and communication on the court. During the middle of the first set, the Lady Hawks score crept up while the Lady Titans continued a very good defensive. The first timeout of the game occurred with the score of the Lady Titans 14 and Lady Hawks 8. Shortly later, a second time out occurred with the score of Lady Titans 20 and Lady Hawks 12. The Lady Titans were really holding back any opportunity for the Hawks to score points. The Lady Titans’s plan of attack during the 1st set was a strong dominating offense. At the end of the 1st set, the score was Lady Titans 25, Lady Hawks 16.
After a devastating defeat in the 1st set, the Lady Hawks learned not to underestimate the power of the Lady Titans and the former quickly scored several points over the Lady Titans taking a quick lead. Their lead was shortly lived because the Lady Titans caught up very quickly and tied up the score running neck-and-neck with the Lady Hawks. Both teams were playing strong throughout the 2nd set with only one or two points separating them apart. When the score became the Lady Titans 20 and Lady Hawks 23, a time out was called again to strategize. Towards the end of the 2nd set , the Lady Titans were trying hard to clench a second win but came up a few points short over the Lady Hawks’ narrow offense. The second set went to the Lady Hawks with the score Lady Hawks 25, Lady Titans 21. Each team now had one set to their credit.
At the beginning of the 3rd period, the Lady Hawks came out strong scoring a few points upfront over the Lady Titans. The point gap started early with the Lady Hawks quickly overtaking the Lady Titans, 7 to 3. However, the Lady Titans knew they needed momentum. They persisted, did not give up hope and slowly crept up from behind. In the middle of the 3rd period, the Lady Titans were still behind 8 to 13. The Lady Hawks played very well as a team returning the ball over the net scoring point after point in Lady Titan territory. A time out was called and both schools discussed their game plan for this critical 3rd set. As the end of the 3rd period inched closer, the Lady Hawks felt confident of an easy win but the Lady Titans kept the Lady Hawks them on their toes. With only two points separating the teams favoring the Lady Hawks, a second time out was called at 19 vs. 17. Shortly later, feeling the pressure, another time out was called with the score remaining by the Lady Titans at 17 and the Lady Hawks swooping to 22. The Lady Titans looked very desperate to score a few points in Hawk territory but could not catch-up. With a huge separation gap, the Lady Hawks crushed the Lady Titans by a seven-point lead with a score of Lady Titans 18 and Hawks 25 at the end of the 3rd set. To sum up, the Lady Hawks took two sets and the Lady Titans one set. To win, the winning team must overtake 3 sets out of five.
With tensions spiking, the Lady Titans regained some strength and began to score points over the Lady Hawks. However, the Lady Titans learned very quickly not to underestimate the talons of the Lady Hawks as the latter quickly took back the lead by a few points. Approaching the 4th period half, the score was the Lady Titans 11 and Lady Hawks 12. The competition was relentless as the scores soared to Lady Titans 14 and the Lady Hawks 18. The scores continued to spike. Neither school was giving an inch and fighting to stay alive in this set. The fans from both teams were on the edge of their seats. A second time out was called with the score Lady Titans 19 and Hawks 20. With the Lady Hawks only 5 points from winning, the Lady Titans turned the set around and showed their high caliber of teamwork to take the to lead 21 to 20. In a turn of events, the Lady Titans were bestowed some magic from the gods and won the 4th set with a score of 26 and the Lady Hawks, 24, which led to an overtime standoff.
As the beginning of overtime started, both the Lady Titans and the Lady Hawks played outstanding offense and defense. The tension in the gym could be cut like a hot knife through a block of butter. Neither team allowed the opposite team to take a huge lead in points. Both schools tied-up their scores with only one-point differences. When the score grew to Lady Titans 8 and Lady Hawks 7, both schools change sides of the court one last time. It was anyone guess which team would eventually clinch the win. After the switch of sides, the Lady Titans scored a few more points leading the Lady Hawks by now 2 points, 10 to 8. After the Lady Titans scored 2 more points, a time out was called and the scored showed the Lady Titans 12 and Lady Hawks 9. This will be the last time out for both teams to seize their victory. With a huge lead of six points, the Lady Titans won the game in overtime with a score of 15 and the Lady Hawks 9. The Lady Titans crushed the Hawks on their home court and defeating the number one ranked team in the state of Florida and the sixth team in the nation. “It does not happen often and it a fun thing when it happens. They played great tonight and both teams played very well. It was a battle and I am glad we ended on top.” Coach White.
The Lady Titans had an amazing comeback beating a very tough and honorable competitor. They are off to a great season victory!
Post Game Interview and future for the Titans
After the match, Beatriz Vieira, #10 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, shared a few words in a post game interview. She said, “It was great that we played HCC. They are a good team and we have practiced so hard. I am glad that I have my parent’s support and they are with me. It is so good to win this game. All of the team deservers it. I am glad” Also, she states that, “It is a great opportunity because in Brazil we do not have the instruction that you have in the USA so it is very good that I have this opportunity to study and play hard as well.”
At the end of the night, the Lady Titans defeated the Hawks in a very exciting and a nail biting match, W 3-2. Many who watched the game live on the SPC athletic website from 13 different countries will look forward to following the Titans as they continue through their season. As they compete against Polk State College and Indian River State College on October 1, 2016, these teams should not underestimate the power of the Lady Titans’ power on the court.
Robert Gale is an SPC student, writer, and photographer. He can be reached at: http://www.robgalephotography.com/index.html