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District volleyball roundup: Wharton goes the distance against Plant

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Tue. October 21, 2014 | Brandon Wright

District volleyball roundup: Wharton goes the distance against Plant

TAMPA — No. 3 Plant had a chance to upend No. 2 Wharton in Tuesday’s Class 8A, District 7 semifinals. 

But the Wildcats held off the Panthers, advancing with a five-game win at Alonso. Top-seeded Bloomingdale swept past Riverview 25-15, 25-21, 25-13 in the other semi.

“Plant hasn’t won this many district and state titles for nothing,” Wharton coach Eric Barber said. “They are a great team and well-coached.”

Plant took the first game 25-22, but Wharton stormed back to win the next two 25-21 and 25-22. Plant seized momentum, however, with a 25-18 victory in Game 4.

“Plant really came out ready to play,” Wharton outside hitter Kathryn Attar said. “I think we came out a little more lackadaisical. We knew we had already beaten them (in the regular season). I think we were very content with where we were, and they came out and beat us in that first game.”

With the score tied at 12 in the deciding game, Wharton took the lead on an unforced error followed by a block from Tyler Sroufe and Lindsay Schaible. Wharton then put the match away when Attar’s cross-court winner caromed off a defenders’ wrist and out of bounds.

It was the third time Wharton defeated Plant this year, returning to the postseason after a year’s absence. Attar led everyone with 29 kills to go along with four aces and 21 digs.

“I was pretty tired but I know my team needed me and I had to pull it out,” Attar said.

Chanelle Hargreaves added 21 digs for the Wildcats. Plant’s Angel Gaskin finished with 24 kills, and Katherine Gabler recorded five blocks.

Bloomingdale and Wharton will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in the district final. The Bulls have swept the Wildcats in both regular-season meetings.

Class 4A-10: No. 2-seeded Berkeley Prep came out strong against No. 3 Tampa Catholic, winning the first two sets handily. 

The third, though, was a challenge. The Bucs’ youth — which has held them back at times this season — began to peek out in the form of unforced errors an apparent lapses in team chemistry on the court.

Coach John Coup insists he wasn’t the least bit worried.

The Bucs eventually came through, beating the Crusaders 25-8, 25-8, 25-21 to advance to Thursday’s district final against top-seeded Academy of the Holy Names, which beat No. 4 Booker 25-12, 25-5, 25-18. And though his team showed flashes of inconsistency, Coup said the improvements have been dramatic.

“(Tampa Catholic) may have scored two points or three points at the most at a time, but that’s going to happen,” Coup said of the third set. “We’re just not giving up those runs anymore. And that’s a good thing.”

With just two juniors and no seniors on the roster, Berkeley Prep has taken its lumps. It started the season 1-3 and was severely outmatched in its annual Berkeley Premier tournament. For a program that owns 15 state titles and, until last year, had won 16 straight district championships, those kinds of struggles are uncommon.

Coup is proud to say, though, that his Bucs — led by freshman Jenna Hampton’s 12 kills and 13 digs Tuesday — have taken it in stride. 

Their setting has drastically improved, he said, and the team chemistry is at a different level than when the season started. Those are things that aided the Bucs when they beat rival Tampa Prep, one of the best teams in Tampa Bay, 3-2 two weeks ago, and again against the Crusaders. 

Like they showed late in Tuesday’s match, the Bucs are still learning to not let youth hold them back. But in that same match, outside hitter Madison Jenkins said, they also proved that they’re capable of great things. 

“We’ve become more disciplined, and sometimes it takes  teams longer to get a flow, the way we work together on the court,” she said. “Now that we’ve reached that …we can shock people.”

Class 3A-7: Carrollwood Day, which came into Tuesday’s semifinals with only one loss, got a slight scare from Seffner Christian.

After easily taking the first game 25-16, the Patriots were pushed to the brink by Seffner Christian in the second (25-19) and third (22-25) games before Carrollwood took control in the final game (25-16) to clinch a berth in the region quarterfinals and Thursday’s district championship match.

The victory over the Crusaders (16-9) sets up an opportunity for the Patriots (19-1) to avenge a loss earlier this season to Tampa Prep.

The top-seeded Terrapins sealed their spot in the title match with a four-set battle over host Bishop McLaughlin, winning 25-14, 21-25, 25-15, 25-12.

Tampa Prep (22-4), which has won six district titles in a row, employed a precise strategy of keeping the ball away from Hurricane standouts Casey McColl (five kills, one ace) and Alyssa Mathis (18 kills, two aces), who are both gaining Division I interest.

Terrapin hitters Corey Perkins (23 kills, three aces), Ariana Mosley (13 kills, one ace), and Alana Nelson (13 kills, four aces) assaulted Bishop McLaughlin (12-9) with a barrage of kills.

Tampa Prep reached the region final last year before losing in five games to eventual state runnerup Orlando First Academy. With the impressive victory Tuesday, the team looks prepared to make another postseason run.

Class 5A-9: Middleton beat Spoto 25-12, 25-22, 25-20 on Tuesday and advances to Thursday's final at Robinson, which is the top seed.

Class 2A-7: Host Cambridge Christian beat Academy at the Lakes 25-16, 25-18, 25-8 and faces Tampa Bay HEAT, a 25-10, 25-10, 25-7 winner over Foundation Christian Academy, in Thursday's final. 

Staff writer Kelly Parsons and correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report. 
 

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