Andres Leiva | Times
Jaylin Jackson and Cambridge Christian can wrap up a district title this week with a win over Carrollwood Day.
Player of the week: CJ Cotman, Clearwater Central Catholic
Through his high school career, Cotman has piled up points. The versatile playmaker became the school’s all-time leading scorer in the the second game of the season. Since then, his touchdowns and yards have been pedestrian. That changed Friday night.
Cotman, a Tennessee commit, scored three touchdowns, one on a punt return and the other two on long receptions. He also had 190 yards rushing, more than he had in the previous six games he played this season. His performance helped the Marauders erase a 10-point halftime deficit and cruise to a 35-23 win over Admiral Farragut.
Team of the Week: Mitchell
It was pretty simple for the Mustangs: Lose to Sunlake on Friday night and kiss the playoffs goodbye. Oh, and Mitchell had to win without injured starting quarterback Larry Dalla Betta. No problem. Behind 207 yards and four touchdowns from Mychael “Catfish” Hamilton, and solid play from backup quarterback Justin Locklear, Mitchell found a way to beat Sunlake 27-19. …Full Story
Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Oct. 15 through Friday, Oct. 21. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.
Taylor Dedman, golf, Plant City: Dedman shot eve- par 72 at the Class 3A, Region 5 tournament to qualify for the state tournament. Dedman, who transferred from Seminole, shot the low round at the tournament.
Annaklara Doel, swimming, East Lake: The senior won the 200 IM (2:09.78) and the 500 free (4:58.93) at the Class 3A, District 8 meet to help the Eagles finish third overall.
Mariella Haimes, volleyball, Mitchell: The junior had 10 kills and two blocks as she led the Mustangs to their fifth straight district title with a three-game sweep over Sunlake in the Class 7A-8 title game.
Kirbea Harrell, volleyball, Fivay: The junior outside hitter finished with a match-high nine kills to lead the Falcons to a three-game sweep over upstart Gulf in the Class 6A, District 8 title game. …Full Story
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
Bloomingdaleâs Kelsey Martin (left), Emily Doyle (second from left), Emilee Runnels (No. 12) and Jada Flowers (leaping right) rejoice after clinching the final winning point in set No. 3 during Thursday nightâs Class 8A, District 9 final against East Bay. Bloomigndale went on to win the match 3-1.
PLANT CITY — After the first set Thursday night it sure looked like East Bay was well on its way to winning the first-ever volleyball district title in school history.
Bloomingdale had other ideas.
Once the Bulls gathered themselves during the break between the first and second sets — “And got that adrenaline pumping in a good way,” Bulls senior Emily Doyle said — things turned around rather dramatically.
By the time the dust settled two hours later, the Bulls had pulled out a hard-fought, nail-biting Class 8A, District 9 victory over the Indians, 14-25, 25-22, 25-20, 26-24.
“I think we got off to a shaky start because we wanted it so bad and it was the district final and the crowd was so big and loud and intense (on their feet screaming the entire night),” Doyle said. “But after we got our momentum back in the last three sets I thought we played awesome.”
Heroes? There were plenty to go around, including Doyle, who collected one big kill after another in many of the crucial moments, which she said, “Is something I want. I feel like I can put it away for my team when they need it.” …Full Story
JARRETT GUTHRIE | Special to the Times
Gabriela Quarles is fired up as her team came from behind to defeat Tampa Bay HEAT and claim the 3A-District 4 final at home on Thursday.
TAMPA – Down a pair of games in the Class 3A, District 4 final, Carrollwood Day junior outside hitter Gabriela Quarles said all the pressure was on the other side of the net and the Patriots just had to simply get going.
Carrollwood Day rallied, winning three tough games to claim its third straight district title, defeating the Tampa Bay HEAT 3-2 (23-25, 25-27, 25-22, 25-22, 15-10).
“They were up 2-0 and all the pressure was on them; we had zero pressure on us,” Quarles said. “Right there you just go for it; no fear, just go.”
Patriots coach Eric Praetorius said after dropping the first two games, an in-game adjustment in Game 3 flipping Quarles with Ally-Reese Williams, pitting Quarles directly against HEAT senior Catherine Trueheart, proved key in the comeback.
“We flipped it and put Gabby up against (Trueheart) and put Ally-Reese against the middle instead and it just worked for us in Game 3, so I stuck with it in Game 4 and stuck with it in Game 5.”
Trueheart was a force throughout with 24 kills, but CDS took advantage of some rotation points in the final two games – especially with the HEAT’s captain starting on the back line. …Full Story
CLEARWATER – Sometimes, observation and opportunity can combine to create something special.
In the summer of 2013, Caslin Layer entered the Calvary Christian gym as a rising freshman setter looking to make the team. After workouts began, coach Caleb Sibert came up with a different plan.
“We had her doing some setting work and I noticed she was jumping well,” Sibert recalled. “We had a senior setter and needed an outside hitter, so we just started working with her. The rest is history.”
Fast forward to Thursday night and the contributions of Layer – a four-year starter – in a 3-0 win over Northside Christian (18-5) to repeat as Class 4A, District 4 champions were impressive right from the start.
Serving to open the match, Layer pounded out four aces as the Warriors sprinted to a 5-0 lead that grew as big as nine points. Moving to the front line, she added three kills to lock up the 25-19 win.
“Everybody told us that we had to get off to a great start and that's how we were going to win,” said Layer, who finished with 21 kills and six aces. “If we played efficient volleyball, took care of business ... I think we did a good job of it.” …Full Story
CLEARWATER – Palm Harbor University’s volleyball program has gone through all sorts of adjustments in the past four years. The coach changed. Key players graduated. Others missed time with injuries.
But the one constant during that time has been the Hurricanes' mastery over rival East Lake.
Since losing to the Eagles in the 2012 region semifinals, PHU had won eight straight in the series entering Thursday’s Class 7A, District 10 championship match.
The dominance continued with the Hurricanes winning 25-16, 25-22, 25-15.
PHU (17-2-1) has not just swept every match during this four-year stretch. The Hurricanes have only dropped one game to East Lake in that span.
“Winning never gets old,” said PHU second-year coach Dexter Rogers, who won his second straight district title.
What made Thursday’s performance even more impressive was that the Hurricanes were without their best player, Julia Angelo, who has a sprained knee and will miss at least another week. PHU middle hitter Kylie Stojak injured her foot Wednesday and played at 75 percent, according to Rogers. …Full Story
SARASOTA – Berkeley Prep started slowly but got better with each set in a 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-11 Class 5A, District 9 final win over Academy of the Holy Names.
“We just start slowly most of the time," Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said. “We put in a few wrinkles and by Game 4 those wrinkles were working. It just took some time."
The third-seeded Jaguars (17-6) looked like they might pull off an upset over the top-seeded Bucs (18-7) after looking impressive in the first set. They jumped out to a 7-4 lead, thanks mainly to Berkeley Prep errors. The set went back and forth and the Bucs cut the lead to 18-16 late. But two straight kills by Camille Opp widened the gap and the set was finished off by a kill from Katherine Pickard and a block by Megan Przedpelski.
The Jaguars had the lead for most of the second set as well. They held a 19-17 lead after a nice block by Kendall Bulleit. But Berkeley Prep tied the set after a Grace Varsames ace and took a 21-19 lead on a Varsames kill. The Bucs did not give up the lead after that and finished off the set on a kill by Amanda Phegley and an errant spike by the Jaguars. …Full Story
HUDSON – A disputed point involving a tip, turned into a tipping point in the Class 6A, District 8 final Thursday.
Fivay felt the officials erred ruling one of the Falcons touched a hit by Gulf's Casey James that landed well out. So much so that Falcons captain Hailey Lake, for the only time all night, went over to the head official to question the call. It stood, and Gulf stood with a good chance at leveling the match up 20-18 in the second set.
A timeout was in order.
"We thought it was a questionable call, whatever," said Fivay head coach Nikki Pollock. "When something like that happens I like to call timeout. I told them, 'Take a breath, it's just one point, and it's gone. Focus on what you need to do, not outside circumstances.'"
Well done by Pollock and Fivay, which scored the next seven points and rolled to a 25-9, 25-20, 25-15 victory over the visiting Buccaneers, who still are headed to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
Lake served the final six points of the run as Fivay (21-4) took advantage of Caitlin Wade, one of Gulf's 5-foot-11 middle duo along with James, being on the bench. …Full Story
TRINITY – Coming off of a state runnerup showing last year, Mitchell came back this year with a renewed sense of motivation. That fuel culminated in a fifth straight district title on Thursday night.
The host Mustangs topped Sunlake in three sets (25-21, 25-16, 25-14). The Class 7A, District 8 championship was decided in a rematch of last year’s contest with similar results.
After their historic run in 2015, Mitchell (19-4) lost three of its four top hitters and head coach Keith Paulk to retirement. New coach Heidi Michaels did not seem to miss a beat, leading this group to the same regular-season record and another district crown.
“I look at this as a completely different team from last year,” Michaels said. “At the same time, Keith (Paulk) is our biggest fan, and there is motivation to keep up this tradition for him and for the school.” …Full Story
CHARLIE KAIJO | Times
Undefeated Wesley Chapel has a big district matchup with Zephyrhills on Friday night.
All games at 7:30 unless noted
Wesley Chapel at Zephyrhills
Rodney Page: Wesley Chapel 20-16
Bob Putnam: Zephyrhills 21-20
Land O’Lakes at Pasco
Page: Pasco 14-3
Putnam: Pasco 28-17
Mitchell at Sunlake
Page: Sunlake 28-7
Putnam: Sunlake 34-18
Citrus at Nature Coast
Page: Nature Coast 44-14
Putnam: Nature Coast 35-3
River Ridge at Anclote
Page: River Ridge 30-10
Putnam: River Ridge 35-14
Fivay at Hudson
Page: Hudson 35-7
Putnam: Hudson 42-21
Keswick Christian at Zephyrhills Christian, 7
Page: Zephyrhills Christian 42-6
Putnam: Zephyrhills Christian 49-7
Mount Dora at Bishop McLaughlin, 7
Page: Mount Dora 17-14
Putnam: Bishop McLaughlin 21-14
Lecanto at Weeki Wachee
Page: Weeki Wachee 28-26
Putnam: Lecanto 34-28
Hernando at Central
Page: Hernando 21-20
Putnam: Central 24-21
Ridgewood at Gulf
Page: Ridgewood 31-13
Putnam: Ridgewood 28-6
Clearwater Academy at Cambridge Christian
Page: Cambridge Christian 52-31
Putnam: Cambridge Christian 45-35
Tampa Bay Tech at Durant
Page: Tampa Bay Tech 28-21
Putnam: Durant 23-21
Wiregrass Ranch at Gaither
Page: Wiregrass Ranch 23-18
Putnam: Wiregrass Ranch 27-17
Alonso at Steinbrenner
Page: Steinbrenner 35-10
Putnam: Steinbrenner 27-7
King at Armwood
Page: Armwood 44-0
Putnam: Armwood 56-0 …Full Story
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
Carrollwood Day School junior Krissy Lloyd (No. 8) jumps for joy after a winning point during Wednesdayâs 25-17, 25-18, 25-23 Class 3A, District 4 semifinal victory over Bishop McLaughlin. CDS moves on to play Tampa Bay Heat in Thursday at 7 p.m.
TAMPA — After comfortable victories in Wednesday’s Class 3A, District 4 semifinals, the stage is set for an intense final Thursday night at 7 — a rematch of a regular-season barn burner between Carrollwood Day School and Tampa Bay HEAT.
The first and only time CDS and the HEAT met this year, on Sept. 13, the match went five sets and concluded with CDS squeezing out a win in the last set, 15-13.
“I don’t expect much to be different this time around,” said Tampa Bay HEAT coach Mark Kachurak, who has led the HEAT to the Class 2A state semifinals the past two years before jumping up to 3A this year. “After that match (with CDS) I think we know each other pretty well. (CDS) is a little deeper than us but I know we have plenty to get the job done.”
CDS coach Eric Praetorius agreed and added that his team knows who to watch for this time around, namely HEAT outside hitter Catherine Trueheart, who led her team in kills in the first CDS match with 21.
“It should be exciting, especially because we’re hosting the districts for the first time in our new gym,” said Praetorius, who has led the Patriots to the state final four the past two years in Class 3A. “It should be a lot of fun for everyone.” …Full Story
TRINITY — Top-seeded Mitchell, the defending state runnerup, dispatched Springstead 25-13, 25-16, 25-14 in the Class 7A, District 8 semifinals Tuesday and will play No. 3 seed Sunlake in Thursday's final.
A strong fourth seed, Springstead (12-12) kept pace early behind Alexis Thompson's six kills but Mitchell pulled away and never wavered. Jessie Mooney and 6-foot sophomore middle Kennedy Deluca put down nine kills apiece for Mitchell while Mariella Haimes added seven, Morgin Tew six. Jennifer Aten had 10, Thompson nine for the Eagles.
Mitchell (18-4) has won 16 of its past 17 matches, the lone loss coming to the team that got knocked out in Tuesday's first match. Sunlake (14-10) secured its third consecutive playoff trip against a team looking for its first in nine years, grinding its way past No. 2 seed Land O' Lakes 19-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-17, 15-6. …Full Story
CLEARWATER – Two potential Cinderellas but neither could make it to the big dance.
After sweeping past fourth-seeded Indian Rocks Christian on Monday in the Class 4A, District 4 quarterfinals, No. 5 Seffner Christian battled top seed and host Calvary Christian evenly through two semifinal sets Tuesday night. But quality setting from junior Caroline Burgess slowly turned the tide as the Warriors prevailed, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17 to advance to Thursday's final.
Calvary moves to the title game with a 16-5 record while Seffner finishes at 12-12.
Burgess (50 assists) was a magician in the deciding sets, funneling perfect passes to senior Caslin Layer (16 kills) and sophomore Jessica Berg (14 kills) while blending in a pair of strong service runs to propel the offense.
“(Burgess) places the ball right in between the seams of our blockers,” said Crusaders coach Leah Jenkins. “I don't know how she does it, but she's probably one of the best setters I've seen at the high school level.”
“Last year, Caroline was a defensive specialist for us,” said Calvary coach Caleb Sibert. “For her, it was a lot of hard work (making the transition) and she's been doing a great job.” …Full Story
Scott Purks | Special to the Times
Bloomingdaleâs Emily Doyle (No. 9, right) leads the celebration moments after the Bulls sealed up a 25-23, 25-23, 25-22 Class 8A, District 9 semifinal victory against Durant.
PLANT CITY — The top four seeds in the Class 8A,District 9 volleyball tournament — East Bay, Durant, Bloomingdale and Plant City — are about as close in ability as four teams can get.
Case in point were Tuesday’s district semifinals where East Bay and Bloomingdale won tight matches against teams that beat them during the regular season: East Bay defeated Plant City 25-23, 25-20, 25-23, and Bloomingdale defeated Durant 25-23, 25-23, 25-22.
Now East Bay (12-3) and Bloomingdale (10-9) face off Thursday night for the district title in a match that looks like another tossup. In the teams’ one regular-season match, East Bay won 15-13 in the fifth set.
“I expect it to be a lot like (Tuesday’s semifinals) except I’ll bet (the final) goes at least four sets,” East Bay coach Brian Adams. “It should be exciting.”
For East Bay it will be no less than historic because the Indians will be playing in their first volleyball district final following a season of firsts that includes its first winning record and its first victories over Bloomingdale, Durant and Plant City.
For Bloomingdale it will offer a chance for a satisfying finish to a season that got off to a rough 3-5 start. …Full Story
CRYSTAL RIVER – No. 3 Weeki Wachee upset county foe and second-seeded Hernando in four sets (25-18, 25-27, 25-10, 25-20) Tuesday night in the Class 6A, District 7 semifinal to advance to the championship match Thursday night.
After Hernando (16-7) evened the match at a set apiece, it seemed the Leopards had the momentum going into the third, but Weeki Wachee (18-8) built a 13-0 lead before the Leopards scored their first point on an Ali Bronson kill. Senior Miranda Werkmeister had five kills in the set to lead the Hornets. Seytia Hill and Albrionna Grayson Simon combined for five other kills. The Leopards also committed six service and return errors.
In a harder-fought fourth set, the Hornets were up 13-7 after a point scored off a tip by Miranda Werkmeister, but Hernando went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 13-12. Bronson had two kills during the run. …Full Story