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Volleyball: Tampa Bay top 25 (week 3)



The Tampa Bay area has plenty of elite programs. The proof is in the rankings. Three teams — Plant, Steinbrenner and Berkeley Prep — are all ranked among the top 45 in the nation and among the top four overall in the state by MaxPreps. Those three teams have gained notoriety thanks to their performance in tournaments. Each has finished in the top six in national-caliber invitationals the past two weeks. 

1. Plant (8-1)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Berkeley Prep; Friday-Saturday at Berkeley Premier

Last spot: No. 1

Why they stayed put: The Panthers are currently ranked 12th nationally and second overall in the state by MaxPreps, both highest among area teams. In its only match last week, Plant swept Calvary Christian to remain undefeated against area teams (the other win was via sweep against Berkeley Prep in the season opener). This weekend, the Panthers play in the Berkeley Prep Premier. 

2. Steinbrenner (17-2)

Up next: Monday vs. Sickles

Last spot: No. 2

Why they stayed put: The Warriors, ranked fourth overall in the state by MaxPreps, have already played the bulk of their regular season schedule after competing in three tournaments. Steinbrenner has fared well, winning two titles, including last week’s Florida Gem High School Classic, where the Warriors went 6-0. Among the wins was a sweep of host Bishop Mclaughlin in the title match. . 

3. Berkeley Prep (9-2)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Tampa Catholic; Friday-Saturday at Berkeley Prep Premier

Last spot: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The Buccaneers, ranked third overall in the state by MaxPreps, swept rival Tampa Prep in their only match last week. This weekend, Berkeley Prep hosts its tournament, which is always one of the best in the state. 

4. Bishop McLaughlin (8-3)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Sarasota Riverview

Last spot: No. 4

Why they stayed put: The Hurricanes were the runnerup at their own tournament, the lone loss coming against Steinbrenner in the final of the Florida Gem High School Classic. This week is a light one with Bishop McLaughlin hosting Sarasota Riverview on Tuesday.    

5. Clearwater Central Catholic (10-5)

Up next: Idle

Last spot: No. 5

Why they stayed put: The Marauders spent the in Louisville, first beating Mercy, then going 3-2 at the LIVT Tournament to place sixth overall. After playing in two tournaments in as many weeks, Clearwater Central Catholic will have the week off from any matches.  

6. Calvary Christian (6-2)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Academy of the Holy Names; Friday-Saturday at Berkeley Prep Premier  

Last spot: No. 6

Why they stayed put: Hard to drop the Warriors considering their only loss of the week was to top-ranked Plant. The tough early-season schedule continues with home match against Academy of the Holy Names, followed by the Berkeley Prep Premier this weekend. 

7. Tampa Prep (8-4)

Up next: Monday vs. Carrollwood Day

Last spot: No. 7

Why they stayed put: The Terrapins went 1-1 last week, losing to Berkeley Prep and beating Winter Park Trinity Prep, both via sweeps. The match against the rival Buccaneers was close with all three sets decided by two points (28-26, 26-24, 26-24). 

8. Academy of the Holy Names (7-1)

Up next: Tuesday at Calvary Christian; Friday-Saturday at tournament

Last spot: No. 9

Why they moved up: The Jaguars played well at the Florida Gem High School Classic, finishing third overall. They had impressive victories over Sickles, Wharton, Land O’ Lakes and Osceola. The lone loss was to eventual champion Steinbrenner in the semifinals.

9. East Lake (7-3)

Up next:  Monday at River Ridge; Wednesday at Clearwater

Last spot: No. 12

Why they moved down: The Eagles bounced back last week, sweeping St. Petersburg and Osceola, then going 3-1 at the Florida Gem High School Classic, the lone loss coming against eventual runnerup Bishop McLaughlin. 

10. Land O’ Lakes (12-2)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Sunlake; Thursday at Wesley Chapel

Last spot: No. 10

Why they moved up: The Gators’ perfect start ended after going 3-2 to finish sixth overall at the Florida Gem High School Classic. Still, it was a solid effort with wins against Sickles, Wharton and Weeki Wachee. 

11.  St. Petersburg (5-1)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Gibbs/Lakewood; Thursday vs. Osceola

Last spot: No. 8

Why they moved down: In their lone match last week, the Green Devils were swept by East Lake to end their perfect start. St. Petersburg will try to bounce back with a doubleheader against Gibbs and Lakewood on Tuesday, followed by match against Osceola on Thursday.

12. Mitchell (4-0)

Up next: Tuesday at Hudson; Thursday at Palm Harbor University 

Last spot: No. 17

Why they moved up: The Mustangs are one of just two teams in the current rankings that are still undefeated. Five of their six wins have been via sweeps, including last week’s victories against Zephyrhills and Sunlake. . 

13. Weeki Wachee (7-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Crystal River

Last spot: No. 11

Why they moved down: The Hornets’ 18-match regular season win streak ended after finishing 3-2 at the Florida Gem High School Classic this past weekend. It was the type of competition Weeki Wachee needed to face before making another playoff run. 

14. Newsome (5-0)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Sumner

Last spot: No. 18

Why they moved up: In their lone match last week, the Wolves swept Spoto to remain undefeated. The schedule is light again with Newsome hosting Sumner on Tuesday in its only match this week.   

15. Strawberry Crest (5-0)

Up next: Thursday at Freedom

Last spot: No. 21

Why they moved up: The Chargers swept Hillsborough in their only match last week to keep their perfect record intact. One of their biggest tests comes Tuesday against undefeated Freedom. 

16. Osceola (8-4)

Up next: Thursday at St. Petersburg. 

Last spot: No. 16

Why they stayed put: The Warriors rebounded from a loss to East Lake to go 3-2 and finish fourth overall at the Florida Gem High School Classic. The Warriors only losses were to runnerup Bishop McLaughlin the semifinals and Academy of the Holy Names in the consolation match. 

17. Wharton (4-3)

Up next: Tuesday at Armwood

Last spot: No. 14

Why they stayed put: After winning their first two matches of the season, the Wildcats fell from the unbeaten ranks, going 2-3 at the Florida Gem High School Classic. 

18. Sickles (5-3)

Up next: Monday at Steinbrenner

Last spot: No. 15

Why they moved down: The Gryphons had a rough start at the Florida Gem High School Classic, losing their first three matches before rebounding to win the last two. It doesn’t get any easier this week with a match against Steinbrenner on Monday. 

19. Keswick Christian (6-1)

Up next:  Monday vs. Shorecrest; Tuesday at St. Petersburg Catholic; Friday-Saturday at Keswick Christian Tournament

Last spot: No. 19

Why they stayed put: After playing just two matches this month, both wins, the schedule picks up considerably for the Crusaders, who host their own tournament this weekend. 

20. Shorecrest (4-2)

Up next: Monday at Keswick Christian; Tuesday vs. Northside Christian; Friday-Saturday at Keswick Christian Invitational

Last spot: No. 21

Why they moved up: After splitting its first four matches, the Chargers climbed above .500 with wins over Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy (3-1) and Pinellas Park (3-0) this past week. Shorecrest has a challenging week starting with Monday’s match against Keswick Christian. 

21. Carrollwood Day (3-3)

Up next: Monday at Tampa Prep; Friday-Saturday at Berkeley Prep Premier

Last spot: No. 21

Why they stayed put: In their lone match last week, the Patriots swept Brooks DeBartolo and now have a winning record. Carrollwood Day’s momentum after winning two straight will be tested with a match against Tampa Prep on Monday, followed by the Berkeley Prep Premier this weekend. 

22. Tarpon Springs (8-2)

Up next: Thursday at Dunedin

Last spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: Since starting 0-2, the Spongers have won eight straight, including a 5-0 mark to finish first overall in the varsity club division at the Florida Gem High School Classic. 

23. Freedom (4-0)

Up next: Monday vs. Lennard; Tuesday vs. Strawberry Crest

Last spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: The Patriots have more than handled their light schedule by cruising to a 4-0 record to start the season. This week presents more of a challenge, especially Tuesday’s match against Strawberry Crest. 

24. Fivay (2-10)

Up next: Tuesday vs. River Ridge; Thursday vs. Gulf

Last spot: No. 13

Why they moved down: The Falcons put together a schedule that yields few easy nights. That is evident after Fivay struggled to beat high-caliber competition in tournaments the past two weeks. But this is what the Falcons wanted in order to be prepared for the playoffs. 

25. Sumner (6-4)

Up next: Tuesday at Newsome

Last spot: No. 24

Why they moved down: The Stingray went 2-3 at the Florida Gem High School Classic. Their only loss to an area was against unbeaten Strawberry Crest and that went five sets.  

On the bubble: Wesley Chapel (4-1), Cypress Creek (5-1), Riverview (2-4), Palm Harbor University (5-1), Nature Coast (6-2), Sunlake (2-3), Hillsborough (1-2). .


Monday sports schedule



What to watch


Bloomingdale (8-4) at Sickles (10-8), 7:30

The Bulls enter on a two-match win streak while the host Gryphons are coming off a 2-3 record at the Fivay Invitational this past weekend. 

Weeki Wachee (11-3) at Bishop McLaughlin (10-4), 7:30

The Hornets wanted tough matches like this one on their schedule after playing mostly against teams from Hernando and Citrus counties a year ago. It will not be easy facing the Class 3A defending state semifinalist Hurricanes. 

Plant City (6-3) at Wharton (9-6), 7:30

The Raiders are starting to find their groove after sweeping Sumner and Brandon last week. The host Wildcats, meanwhile, are trying to bounce back after going 1-3 at the Academy of the Holy Names Invitational this past weekend. 

The schedules


Central Baptist at Community Christian, 4:30

Tampa Catholic at Carrollwood Day, 5

Elfers Christian at Faith Outreach, 5

Lakeside Christian at Canterbury, 5

Cambridge Christian at Brandon Academy, 5

Inverness Christian at Oldsmar Christian, 5:30

Seven Rivers Christian at Classical Prep, 6

North Tampa Christian at Hernando Christian, 6

Lakeland Christian at Seffner Christian, 6

Academy at the Lakes at Winthrop College, 6

Bradenton Saint Stephen’s at Tampa SLAM, 6

Boca Ciega at Admiral Farragut, 6

Lakewood at Pinellas Park, 7

Armwood at Riverview, 7

Bloomingdale at Sickles, 7:30

Weeki Wachee at Bishop McLaughlin, 7:30

Plant City at Wharton, 7:30

Strawberry Crest at East Bay, 7:30

Hillsborough at Newsome, 7:30

Northeast at Dunedin, 7:30

Sumner at King, 7:30 


Sumner at Lennard (boys), 2

Newsome at Strawberry Crest (boys/girls), 2

Chamberlain, Freedom at Brandon (boys/girls), 2

Gaither at Jefferson (boys) 2:30

East Bay at Armwood (boys), 3

Durant at Plant (boys), 3

Bloomingdale at Robinson (boys), 3:30

Alonso at Mitchell (boys), 4

PCAC championship at Bardmoor (boys)

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Volleyball Player of the Week



Here are the nominees for the volleyball player of the week. Voting lasts until 9 a.m. Tuesday. 

L Brooke Arnold, Sr., Riverview: Recorded a combined 54 digs in the Sharks’ last four matches and helped the team stretch its win streak to eight

S Bella Baldyga, Sr., Mitchell: Finished with 19 assists, seven assists and four service aces in a win over Fivay to help the Mustangs stay undefeated through their first nine matches. 

OH Bailey Higgins, So., Berkeley Prep: Selected to the all-tournament team at the Berkeley Premier after helping the Buccaneers win the tournament, then knock off Plant in five sets this past week. 

OH Sydney Jackwin, Sr., Keswick Christian: Named MVP after leading the Crusaders to the team title of their own tournament, as well as a five-set victory over St. Petersburg this past week.  

S/L Taylor Parks, So., Calvary Christian: Was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association state player of the week after leading the Warriors to a runnerup finish at the Berkeley Premier.  

S Sydney Waldenmyer, Sr., Land O’ Lakes: Had a combined 38 assists and 18 digs in wins over Cypress Creek and Sickles this past week. 

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Friday sports schedule (Sept. 24)



The schedules


Fivay Invitational (compiled from MaxPreps)

Wiregrass Ranch vs. Mitchell, 1

Anclote vs. Sickles, 2

Lecanto vs. Mitchell, 3

Sunlake vs. Palm Harbor University, 3

Nature Coast vs. Anclote, 3

Fivay vs. Sickles, 4

River Ridge vs. Palm Harbor University, 4:30

Wesley Chapel vs. Mitchell, 6

Nature Coast vs. Sickles, 6

Hudson vs. Palm Harbor University, 6

Academy of the Holy Names Tournament (compiled from MaxPreps)

Carrollwood Day vs. Tampa Prep, 4:30

Keswick Christian vs. Academy of the Holy Names, 4:30

Wharton vs. Newsome, 5:45

Robinson vs. Academy of the Holy Names, 7

Wharton vs. Tampa Prep, 7

Carrollwood Day vs. Newsome, 8:15

Warrior Invitational (compiled from MaxPreps)

Calvary Christian vs. St. Petersburg, 3

Brooks DeBartolo vs. Calvary Christian, 4

Osceola vs. East Lake, 4

East Lake vs. St. Petersburg, 5

Berkeley Prep vs. Calvary Christian, 5

Other matches

St. Petersburg Catholic at Shorecrest, 6

Clearwater Academy at Northside Christian, 6

Patel at Zephyrhills, 6:30

Countryside at Dunedin, 7:30

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