PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University has no go-to girl.
It has a go-to team.
Just ask Bloomingdale.
In Tuesday’s Class 6A region quarterfinal, the Bulls couldn’t quite figure out whom to stop as the Hurricanes picked up a resounding 25-10, 25-15, 25-16 victory.
“They’ve got a lot of hitters,” said Bloomingdale coach Danielle Leffler. “It was very hard to defend. I couldn’t really tell (my players) to go there, or go here.”
Go everywhere was about the only defense against a PHU attack that was diverse and delivered a decisive win.
Thanks to an excellent serve-receive and defense, Hurricanes setter Caitlyn Kovach was able to deliver the ball pretty much wherever she wanted. Leah McNary had a team-high nine kills, followed by lefty Chelsea King with eight, Sammy Eichelberger with seven and Lee Nielsen and Kristine Fuller with six each.
“I don’t really feel we have a go-to player; the whole front row is fully capable of putting the ball down,” said Kovach, who had 31 assists.
It was Kovach’s hard jump serve that jump-started the Hurricanes. With her team leading 6-4 in the opening game, Kovach served nine straight points — four of them unreturnable aces — to spark PHU. When her serves were returned, Kovach was able to hustle forward to set Eichelberger and Fuller for two kills apiece.
PHU (20-7) led Game Two 8-1 and Game Three 7-1 and never trailed all night as the Bulls (18-7) struggled with serve-receive and never had a run longer than three points.
The Hurricanes get another shot at four-time defending state champion Plant in next week’s region semifinals. PHU has been eliminated by the Panthers in its past four playoff appearances.
“It’s going to be so exciting,” Kovach said. “That’s been the only team that has stopped us the last few years, so we want another chance.”