TAMPA — If Palm Harbor University was going to pull off a minor upset at Plant in the Class 8A region quarterfinal Wednesday, it needed help from just about everyone on the floor.
As usual, Naomi Mack came through with kills in clutch situations and libero Ameije Ismaili dove all around the court keeping points alive.
But players like AnnaMarie Huy, Abby Walker, Emma Strong and Jazmine Barker also came up big in the Hurricanes’ 25-23, 19-25, 25-21, 25-22 win. PHU (20-8) will play Bloomingdale on Tuesday. Plant ends its season 17-7.
“Every one of us picked up our game,” said Huy, who had a team-high 15 kills. “We knew that we were a better team all around. We practiced to go to states and we knew that this was a big game to carry us to states.”
Palm Harbor U. took the first game thanks to clutch play down the stretch. Tied at 22-all, Mack had a tip and a kill that made it 24-22. One point later, Strong had a kill to end the game.
Mack ended the match with 13 kills. Strong added eight.
In the second game, Plant survived a hot PHU start, then put together a 5-1 run in the middle to take a 17-10 lead. The Hurricanes tried to chip away, but the game ended with a kill by Kyuana King to even the match.
Huy took over in the third game. She had seven kills and two blocks to help PHU go up 2-1. In the fourth game, the Hurricanes led 17-16 when they went on a 4-0 run to gain some distance. Plant roared back to tie it at 21 behind a kill and two blocks from Katherine Gabler.
But Mack came up with a block and a kill for a two-point lead. The game and match ended on a Strong kill and a Plant mishit.
“They really made us earn those points at the end,” PHU coach Tara Kuk said. “It was so much fun to watch and to coach. It was great to see the girls come through in the clutch situations.”
Ismaili was clutch with 22 digs. Walker had 42 assists.
While PHU found a way to finish off games, Plant coach Jessica Lamm was frustrated that her team could not.
“We just lost focus down the stretch, unfortunately,” she said. “We just couldn’t finish off rallies at the end.”
6A: Osceola shakes off momentary 'awe'
TAMPA — After dropping two of the first three games against King in Wednesday night’s Class 6A region quarterfinal, Osceola feared its season was over.
When the Warriors won the first four points of the fourth game, their concern turned to confidence and, finally, calm.
Osceola dominated the final two sets to topple host King 15-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-12, 15-7. Osceola (13-9) advances to play Mitchell, which swept their three previous meetings.
The Warriors’ second playoff win in the past three years got off to a slow start after losing the first five points and committing 17 errors in the first game against King (16-5).
“We were a little awestruck with the moment,” Osceola coach Ryan Kramer said.
His Warriors’ athleticism — and four aces by senior captain Emily Barton in the second game helped Osceola get back into the match before it dropped the third game. The Warriors didn’t trail much longer. Kayla Chowdhury started the fourth game with one of her eight kills, and three King miscues gave Osceola a 4-0 lead. Momentum shifted on the bench.
“Something clicked,” said Barton, who finished with 17 kills and five aces.
Whatever it was, the Warriors never let it click back. One of Hayley Misewich’s 15 kills extended Osceola’s lead to 16-6 in the fourth, and the Warriors cruised to tie the match.
Barton opened the fifth with a spike that barely landed inside the line, and Chowdhury followed with an ace. After King became frazzled with back-to-back mental errors moments later, Osceola relaxed.
“I think they gained confidence,” Kramer said. “They realized we can actually do this.”
Osceola won four of the final five points, and one more Chowdhury kill sent the Warriors into the second round.
Katie Newman finished with a team-high 29 digs for Osceola, and Misewich added 10.
Matt Baker, Times staff writer
7 p.m. Tuesday
8A: Bloomingdale at Palm Harbor University
6A: Osceola at Mitchell
3A: Sarasota Out-of-Door at Clearwater Central Catholic