BRADENTON -- The final score indicates Manatee's volleyball team did what it was supposed to do Tuesday night against St. Petersburg.
Top-seeded in the Class 8A-District 8 tournament, the Hurricanes swept past the fourth-seeded Green Devils 3-0 for the third time this season and will host the championship match Thursday against second-seeded Palm Harbor University.
Also called the Hurricanes, Palm Harbor University defeated Riverview on Tuesday to set up a rematch of last year's final, which Manatee won in five games.
Manatee also guaranteed itself a spot in the Region 2 tournament, which begins Oct. 28.
The Canes, however, trailed early in all three games, but that didn't come as much of a surprise to coach Tony Cothron.
"This team has a hard time getting focused at the beginning," Cothron said. "Luckily, we won (Tuesday), so that's good."
Manatee (19-5) won 25-13, 25-20, 25-19, finding a groove in each match thanks in part to junior Haley Coulter. An outside hitter, Coulter faced little resistance from the Green Devils, totaling 12 kills.
Most of the assists came from her younger sister Gabby, who finished with 22.
"At the beginning of the game is the hardest because we lose focus really fast," Haley Coulter said. "But once we get going again, it's good."
Coulter, whose 208 kills lead the team, has been crucial as of late for Manatee, which was without its other big hitter, Jacqui Armer, for the last three weeks as she recovered from mononucleosis.
Armer returned Tuesday and had six kills. The LSU commit came up big from the service line in Game 3, plunking in a pair of aces to help turn a 10-6 deficit into an 11-10 lead.
Haley Coulter, however, was the team's big hitter.
"Haley's been kind of the go-to lately, and she's done a great job," Cothron said. "I can't say enough about Haley as far as her maturity coming through and knowing, 'Hey, our other strong middle is out, so maybe I have to step it up a little more.' And she has."
Grayson Hall and JoJo Coulter each had eight kills for Manatee, which split with Palm Harbor University during the regular season.
"I know what (his players') goal is. They know what my goal is. But we need to take one step at a time," Cothron said. "The first time you think about somebody three matches away, you're going to lose that one and then you'll never get there. We need to take of the business that's in front of us."