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Volleyball: Region final wrap-up

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Class 7A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 7A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Plant 3, Vero Beach 1

Slow starts have been common for the Panthers this season. 

In September, they lost four of five matches during a rough stretch. In the region semifinals, they lost the opening set to rival Steinbrenner. 

Each time, Plant showed its resolve.

The Panthers rebounded from their mid-season struggles by turning it on when it mattered most. After losing the opening set to the Warriors early last week, Plant won the next three sets to move on to the next round. 

In Saturday’s region final, the Panthers found themselves in another hole after losing the first set to Vero Beach. 

Once again, Plant stormed back.

The Panthers took care of the next three sets to win 19-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16.   

For the fifth time in the past six seasons, the Panthers advanced to the state semifinals. They will host Lake Nona on Saturday with the chance to reach the final for the first time since 2018. 

Class 6A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 6A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

St. Petersburg 3, Ocala Forest 1

The Green Devils’ season of superlatives continues. 

After advancing to the region final for the first time earlier in the week, St. Petersburg followed that up by beating previously undefeated Ocala Forest 25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 27-25 to reach the state semifinals.

The Wildcats were dominant in compiling a perfect record entering Saturday’s match. After all, they had only lost one set all season. 

That changed quickly.

From the start, the Green Devils took control, winning the first two sets. Even when St. Petersburg fell in the third set, there was no panic. That was due in large part to being tested in closely contested matches. 

The Green Devils outlasted rival East Lake in a region semifinal in which the first four sets were all decided by two points. 

So after losing a set on Saturday, St. Petersburg was able to regain momentum to win.

Madelyn Davis had 10 kills, nine blocks and five digs to lead the Green Devils. Others who played well include Jordan Bunce (15 digs and 13 kills), Livvi Harting (44 digs) and Nicole Robison (52 assists). 

Fort Myers 3, Hillsborough 0

The Terriers’ dream season ended. 

Hillsborough, which was playing in the region final for the first time, was swept by the Green Wave 25-16, 25-17, 25-12. 

Fort Myers was used to being in this position. This season was the Green Wave’s 22nd straight in the playoffs, a streak that ranks among the top 10 in the state. 

This time, they got past an elusive obstacle by reaching the state semifinals for the first time since 2015.  

Class 5A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 5A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Robinson 3, Port Charlotte 1

After a two-year absence, the Knights are back in the state semifinals.

Robinson made it by going on the road to knock off Port Charlotte in the region final 21-25, 26-24, 25-14, 25-17. 

Mila Yarich, a Yale commit, set the tone for the Knights with her play at the net.  

Ocala Vanguard 3, Fivay 1

The Falcons, who were in the region final for the third time in the past four seasons, were trying to take the next step by advancing to the state semifinals for the first time. 

To do that, Fivay had to get past the Knights, who won a state title in 2018 and reached the final last season. 

The experience in those big game matches showed. 

Vanguard made it back to the final four by cruising to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-13 win. 

Class 4A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 4A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Academy of the Holy Names  3, Weeki Wachee 0

After losing in the state semifinals last season, the Jaguars were motivated to get back. 

They did just that, sweeping previously undefeated Weeki Wachee 25-14, 25-21, 25-13 in the region final. 

But Academy of the Holy Names does not have that just-happy-to-be here mentality. 

This time, the Jaguars want to win it all. 

They certainly looked like a state championship team on Saturday. Campbell Halme (12 kills) and Kensley Warbritton (10 kills) led the attack on offense. 

When the Hornets tried spiking the ball, Halme and Camryn McClendon (combined eight blocks) were there to reject those shots. And Janessa Bailey set everything up with a team-high 33 assists.  

Class 3A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 3A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Bishop McLaughlin 3, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 1

To reach the state semifinals for the second time in the past three seasons, the Hurricanes had to get past their biggest nemesis. 

Twice in the past two seasons, Bishop McLaughlin was swept by the Cougars, including last year’s region semifinals. 

The Hurricanes were not going to let that happen again. 

Led by a balanced — and efficient — attack, Bishop McLaughlin overcame their biggest obstacle to a potential state title by knocking off the defending champions 25-15, 21-25, 25-12, 25-19.

Audrey Koenig, an FSU commit, had 20 kills and Maddie Snider added 19 to lead the offense. Ezzie Thompson came up big at the net, blocking six shots. And Naomi Chinchar contributed with a team-high 40 assists. 

Class 3A, Region 2 was perhaps the toughest in the state. After all, five of the top 10 teams in 3A belonged to that region. 

After getting past the most difficult part of the bracket, the Hurricanes, ranked No. 1 overall in the state by MaxPreps and ninth nationally by MaxPreps, are well-positioned to win their first state title in school history. 

Only two steps remain.

The first comes Saturday when Bishop McLaughlin hosts Ocala Trinity Catholic, ranked 12th in 3A, in the state semifinals. 

Class 2A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 2A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Naples First Baptist Academy 3, Tampa Bay HEAT 0

The HEAT, which was trying to reach the state semifinals for the third time in the past five seasons, fell short of their goal, losing 25-12, 25-11, 25-12. 

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Thursday night football forecast

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Seffner Christian (2-3) at St. Petersburg Catholic (3-3), 7

After starting 2-0, the visiting Crusaders have lost three straight. The host Barons, meanwhile, have rebounded from a 1-2 start to win two of their last three games. 

Putnam’s prediction: St. Petersburg Catholic 30-28

Gibbs (3-3) at Tarpon Springs (3-3), 7

An important Class 5A, District 10 game for both teams not only to stay in the mix for a title but also to get above .500 for the season. 

Putnam’s prediction: Gibbs 34-21 

Clearwater (5-1) at Anclote (1-5), 7:30

The Tornadoes have won five straight and are the clear favorite to the Class 5A, District 10 title. The host Sharks are on a two-game losing streak. 

Putnam’s prediction: Clearwater 42-7

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Thursday sports schedule (Oct. 14)

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What to watch

Volleyball

Sunlake (12-5) at Wesley Chapel (13-4), 6

The Seahawks, who have won four straight, try to maintain their streak against the Wildcats in a rematch from last week that Sunlake took in five sets. 

Palm Harbor University (14-8) at Mitchell (18-0), 6:30

The Mustangs have a shot at going undefeated in the regular season. To do that, Mitchell has get the Hurricanes, who have turned things around. 

St. Petersburg (15-8) at East Lake (16-7), 7

The Pinellas County Athletic Conference final is between teams with impressive streaks. The Green Devils have won seven straight while the host Eagles have won five in a row. East Lake has owned the series this season, sweeping its rival in the previous three meetings. 

Newsome (16-7) at Bloomingdale (11-5), 7:30

Both teams have won three straight heading into their regular season finale. 

The schedules

Volleyball

Solid Rock Christian at Grace Christian, 4:30

Zephyrhills Christian at Hernando Christian, 5

Hillsborough Baptist at Foundation Christian, 5

Tampa Prep at Ocala Trinity Catholic, 5:30

Oldsmar Christian at Elfers Christian, 5:30

Brandon Academy at Universal Academy, 6

Sunlake at Wesley Chapel, 6

Tampa Bay HEAT at Shorecrest, 6

Weeki Wachee at Hernando, 6:30

Wiregrass Ranch at Anclote, 6:30

Carrollwood Day at Calvary Christian, 6:30

Citrus at Nature Coast, 6:30

Palm Harbor University at Mitchell, 6:30

St. Petersburg Catholic at Sarasota Christian, 7

Zephyrhills at Gulf, 7

Gulf Coast HEAT at Tampa SLAM, 7

Seven Rivers Christian at Cambridge Christian, 7

Alonso at Freedom, 7

Crystal River at Springstead, 7

St. Petersburg at East Lake, 7

Central at Lecanto, 7:30

Sumner at Brandon, 7:30

Cypress Creek at Pasco, 7:30

Tampa Bay Tech at Gaither, 7:30

River Ridge at Hudson, 7:30

Riverview at East Bay, 7:30

Newsome at Bloomingdale, 7:30

Spoto at Durant, 7:30

Middleton at Leto, 7:30

Plant at Robinson, 7:30

Jefferson at Armwood, 7:30

Indian Rocks Christian at Countryside, 7:30

Swimming

Plant at Berkeley Prep, 5

Tampa Prep at Berkeley Prep, 5:30

Lennard, Riverview at East Bay (Apollo Beach), 6

Blake, Leto at Hillsborough (Copeland), 6

Spoto, Tampa Bay Tech at Plant City (Plant CityYMCA), 6

Freedom at Academy of the Holy Names, 6:30

Steinbrenner, Wharton at Robinson (Bobby Hicks), 6:30

Gaither at Middleton (Cyrus Green), 6:30

Spoto, Sumner at Jefferson (Interbay), 6:30

Brandon, Tampa Bay HEAT at Bloomingdale (High five), 7

Golf 

East Bay at Riverview (boys), 2

Hillsborough at Leto (boys), 2:30

Freedom at Jesuit (boys), 2:30

Alonso at Chamberlain (boys), 3

Sickles at Jefferson (boys/girls), 3

Steinbrenner at Gaither (boys), 3

Newsome at Plant City (boys), 3

Sumner at King (boys/girls), 3:30

Plant at Robinson (boys), 3:30

Berkeley Prep at Tampa Prep, 4

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Volleyball: Hillsborough County Top 15

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The top of the rankings stays the same heading into the final week of the regular season. But there was plenty of movement in the rest of the top 15.

1. Berkeley Prep (22-2)

Up next: Idle

Last spot: No. 1

Why they stayed put: The Buccaneers, ranked fifth in the nation, closed out the regular season on a 15-match win streak, including sweeps over Newsome and Tampa Bay HEAT last week. Berkeley Prep can now focus on the ultra-competitive Class 3A, District 5 tournament, which starts on Oct. 18. 

2. Steinbrenner (21-2)

Up next: Monday at Blake; Tuesday vs. Plant

Last spot: No. 2

Why they stayed put: The Warriors, ranked No. 3 in Class 7A, have won 10 straight matches, including a sweep over Alonso in their only match last week. Steinbrenner closes out the regular season with an anticipated matchup against Plant that could serve as a preview of the Class 7A, District 7 final. 

3. Plant (18-4)

Up next: Tuesday at Steinbrenner; Wednesday vs. Clearwater Central Catholic; Thursday at Robinson

Last spot: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The Panthers, the state’s top team in 7A according to MaxPreps, have won seven straight, all via sweeps. The match against Steinbrenner is not the only tough one this week. Plant also faces Clearwater Central Catholic on Wednesday. 

4. Tampa Prep (18-5)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay HEAT; Thursday at Ocala Trinity Catholic

Last spot: No. 4

Why they stayed put: The Terrapins are on a three-match win streak after sweeping Academy of the Holy Names last week. Two of Tampa Prep’s five losses this season have come against Berkeley Prep and Plant, both ranked ahead of the Terrapins. 

5. Riverview (13-3)

Up next: Monday at Leto; Thursday at East Bay

Last spot: No. 6

Why they moved up: After starting the season 1-3, the Sharks have won 12 straight matches, including sweeps over Robinson and Durant last week. Riverview will try to keep that streak going with matches against Leto on Monday and East Bay on Thursday to close out the regular season. 

6. Academy of the Holy Names (15-8)

Up next: Tuesday at Osceola

Last spot: No. 5 

Why they moved down: The Jaguars split their two matches last week, sweeping Tampa Bay HEAT and getting swept by Tampa Prep. Academy of the Holy Names travels to Osceola on Tuesday for its regular season finale. 

7. Newsome (15-7)

Up next: Tuesday at Tampa Bay Tech; Thursday at Bloomingdale

Last spot: No. 7

Why they stayed put: The Wolves won their only match last week, sweeping Lennard. Newsome finishes the regular season with matches against Tampa Bay Tech on Tuesday and Bloomingdale on Thursday. 

8. Wharton (13-7)

Up next: Tuesday at Strawberry Crest

Why they stayed put: The Wildcats swept King to extend their win streak to five. Wharton will maintain that streak when it travels to play Strawberry Crest in Tuesday’s regular season finale. 

9. Bloomingdale (11-5)

Up next: Thursday vs. Newsome

Last spot: No. 10

Why they moved up: The Bulls had a solid week, beating Strawberry Crest in five sets and sweeping Sumner to extend their win streak to three. Another challenge comes Thursday when Bloomingdale hosts Newsome in the regular season finale. 

10. Sickles (13-10)

Up next: Monday at Wiregrass Ranch; Tuesday at Gaither

Last spot: No. 9

Why they moved down: The Gryphons split their two matches last week, sweeping Blake and getting swept by Plant. That tough schedule will help Sickles stay competitive in the Class 7A, District 7 tournament that starts Oct. 18. 

11. Plant City (8-4)

Up next: Monday at Lennard

Last spot: No. 15

Why they moved up: The Raiders have won four of their last five matches, including a sweep over East Bay in their only match last week. Plant City finishes the regular season with a match against Lennard on Monday. 

12. Strawberry Crest (12-5)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Wharton

Why they moved down: The Chargers split their two matches last week, losing in five sets to Bloomingdale and sweeping Leto. Strawberry Crest hosts Wharton on Tuesday in the regular season finale. 

13. Freedom (8-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Hillsborough; Thursday vs. Alonso

Last spot: No. 13

Why they stayed put: Though the schedule has been light, the Patriots have played well. They beat Gaither in five sets in their only match last week. Freedom’s two losses came against Wharton and Strawberry Crest. 

14. Carrollwood Day (13-10)

Up next: Tuesday at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney; Thursday at Calvary Christian

Last spot: No. 12

Why they moved down: The Patriots split their two matches last week, sweeping Patel and getting swept by Bishop McLaughlin. All of Carrollwood Day’s losses this season have come against quality opponents. 

15. Tampa Catholic (12-10)

Up next: Tuesday at Shorecrest

Last spot: No. 14

Why they moved down: The Crusaders will try to snap out of their four-match losing streak when they travel to play Shorecrest in the regular season finale. 

On the bubble: Gaither (6-3) , Sumner (8-8), Cambridge Christian (12-10)

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