As Plant chases its fourth straight state volleyball title, we know the Panthers are good. This weekend, we might start finding out how good.
The Panthers (11-0) will travel to Chicago this weekend for the Asics Challenge, facing some of the top volleyball competition in the nation. This is the second year Plant has played in the event. Last season, the Panthers finished fifth, going 4-1 and beating Chicago Joliet Catholic Academy, which happened to be the draw's top seed this year.
Eight of the 24 teams, including Plant, are ranked in the ESPN Rise Fab 50.
The pool pairings and list of teams have been released, and Plant will face Rockton (Ill.) Hononegah and host Chicago Mother McAuley in pool play.
The Panthers, ranked 29th in the nation in the ESPNRise Fab 50, are in a field that also includes national heavyweights such as Chicago Joliet Catholic Academy (Ranked second in nation by ESPNRise), Louisville (Ky.) Assumption (Seventh), Wheaton (Ill.) St. Francis (Eighth), Louisville (Ky.) Sacred Heart (Ninth), Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Mira Costa (20th), Orland Park (Ill.) Carl Sandburg (39th) and Chicago Marist (41st), as well as Plant state rival Venice.
(Photo: Plant outside hitter Maddie Martin and the Panthers volleyball team heads to Chicago for some stiff competition in the Asics Challenge/Times staff)