Plant 3, Steinbrenner 1
Playing a challenging schedule yields few easy nights for the Panthers. But that prepares them for the matches that matter most.
Plant had momentum entering Wednesday’s region semifinals. After all, the Panthers swept its last six matches, including one over defending Class 3A state champion Sarasota Cardinal Mooney.
There also was plenty of incentive.
After dominating the Warriors for years, Plant lost twice to its district rival during the regular season.
The struggles continued early on. The Panthers watched its streak of six straight sweeps end when they lost the first set.
But the frustrations did not last.
Plant bore down after that, winning 22-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-20. Erin Morrissey, one of the state’s top-ranked players in the 2021 class, made a difference at the net to lead the Panthers’ offense.
Kissimmee Osceola 3, Newsome 2
For the second straight season, the Wolves fell to the Kowboys in the semifinals.
This time, Newsome had its chances.
The Wolves won two of the first three sets and were on the verge of advancing.
Then the lead — and the match — slipped away.
Osceola rallied in the final two sets to win 19-25, 25-18, 11-25, 25-19, 15-9 to win.
Alexa Kosmopolis had 18 digs and 14 kills to lead Newsome..
St. Petersburg 3, East Lake 2
The Green Devils are in the region final for the first time after outlasting their fiercest — and most familiar — rival.
St. Petersburg had faced the Eagles seven times in the past four seasons. The Green Devils won each time.
To continue that success, St. Petersburg had to constantly battle. Each set was close — the first four were each decided by two points — as the ebb and flow constantly changed with every serve.
In the fifth and deciding set, the Green Devils took control to win 24-26, 25-23, 26-24, 26-28, 15-10.
St. Petersburg had four players reach double figures in kills, led by Kate Youmans with 16. Jordan Bunce also stood out with 15 kills and 13 digs.
Hillsborough 3, Plant City 2
By surviving a marathon semifinal match, the Terriers made history, reaching the region finals for the first time.
It was not easy.
Two of the first three sets were decided by two points. Hillsborough won both of those but was never able to put the match away until the fifth and final set to win 25-23. 14-25, 26-24, 20-25, 15-10.
Mallory Smith had a team-high 24 kills for the Raiders.
Robinson 3, Land O’ Lakes 0
The Knights advanced to the region finals for the first time since 2017 by sweeping the Gators 25-11, 25-19, 25-10.
Robinson won all three meetings with Land O’ Lakes this season via sweeps.
Mila Yarich and Maddie Hills were dominant at the net for the Knights.
Fivay 3, Lecanto 0
The Falcons are in familiar territory, reaching the region finals for the third time in the past four seasons.
They did it with relative ease, sweeping the Panthers 25-15, 25-22, 25-23.
After starting the season 6-12, Fivay has won seven straight matches, including four via sweeps.
Makayla Way had 14 digs and 13 kills and Chayla Wade added 13 digs and 13 kills to lead the Falcons in Wednesday’s semifinals.