Tigers feed off crowd, sweep Hawks in 11th annual Pink Game


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Holy Trinity's Emily Vaught looks to beat the block of Viera's Ali McLoughlin (No. 11) and Tory Kolasky during Thursday night's 11th annual Pink Game. The Tigers swept the Hawks in three sets.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The players.

The fans.

The cause.

They all came together perfectly Thursday night at Viera High as the 11th annual Pink Game was played in front of a loud, full house that made for an electric atmosphere that filled the gym with excitement.

The Holy Trinity Tigers certainly seemed to be feeling it as they put on a dominating performance, sweeping the host Hawks 25-17, 25-12 and 25-14 for their second straight win in the series.

“Oh my gosh, it was so energetic,” Holy Trinity senior libero Courtney Noe said. “When both sides cheer, it’s just awesome. It gives us energy. It gives the whole gym energy.

“We play way better with an atmosphere like that. Some people say that might be distracting, but for us it completely amps us up.”

Players from both teams, along with many of their fans, wore pink to show their support for breast cancer awareness. Proceeds from the game will benefit the Side-Out Foundation, a national organization that raises money for breast cancer research.

In addition to a serving contest between the second and third sets, there was also a postgame raffle.

As for the contest on the court, the night clearly belonged to the Tigers (13-3), who showed why they’ve been to the regional finals the past two seasons.

“Lately, we’ve been pretty strong,” Holy Trinity coach Pete Klonowski said. “Our ball control is the key. When we pass the ball inside the attack line, and we can run the tempo that we want offensively, we cause a lot of problems.

“And it’s not only our serve-receive (game). Our defense, we are digging balls inside the attack line. We’re able to transition from defense to offense and come back very fast, counterattack quickly. I think that’s helping us tremendously.”

The Tigers certainly showed that transition game Thursday night as they were able to dig a lot of balls and keep the point going until they were able to put it away.

In doing so, Holy Trinity also displayed an impressive ability to attack using a variety of angles to beat the Viera block and get the kill.

“We’ve been working very hard on attacking against a bigger block,” Klonowski said. “Sometimes, we have to simulate that in practice by having kids stand on a box.

“... We played a tournament a couple of weeks ago and a bigger block caused us some problems. So we’ve been focusing on how to deal with that and how to counter against it.”

Lara Boos led the Tigers with 14 kills and also had a game-high five blocks. Emily Vaught had 11 kills and Emily Tobkes had six kills to go with two blocks and one ace.

Courtney Noe had 17 digs, four assists and an ace. Emily Noe had 33 assists, 13 digs and two blocks. Chloe Green had seven digs and two aces.

If the Tigers can keep playing like they did Thursday night, they could very well get another crack at reaching the Class 5A regional final and perhaps going all the way.

“We’ve been really awesome lately,” Courtney Noe said. “We’re really looking forward to districts and we really want that state championship this year.”

Viera (13-5), which got a big confidence boost when it won the St. Cloud tournament late last month, certainly had its moments against Holy Trinity. The Hawks kept things tight early in each set before the Tigers were able to pull away.

Senior Ali McLoughlin led the way for Viera with eight kills, 12 digs and two blocks.

Delaney Lott had four kills and Shaine Horvath had three kills and a block. Madi Hintz had a team-high 11 assists while Chloe Arellano had eight assists, 10 digs and an ace.

Maddie Day had 10 digs, one block and one ace. Emma Redmon had 10 digs and Taylor Jensen and Tory Kolasky each had a block.

“As far as the atmosphere goes, it couldn’t have been any less than perfect,” Viera coach Sarah Wayne said. “The crowd was great. What we’re trying to accomplish with the Pink Game, all of that was perfect.

“I wish we had played better. We didn’t make adjustments against a very good team. They’re probably the toughest opponent that we’ve seen this year. They executed everything. Whatever they wanted to do, they did tonight.

“There’s really not much else you can say other than chalk it up to a great game, a great community, a great atmosphere.”