8A-7 at Plant
Tuesday: No. 4 Wharton vs. No. 5 Riverview, 5; No. 3 Newsome vs. No. 6 Alonso, 7; Wednesday: No. 2 Bloomingdale vs. Newsome-Alonso winner, 5; No. 1 Plant vs. Wharton-Riverview winner, 7; Thursday: final, 7
Skinny: Plant and Bloomingdale are the only teams with winning district records, so expect a final match between the Panthers and the Bulls. It would be the third meeting between the teams, the second of which went to a decisive fifth set. Plant, which finished the season 10-0 in the district, came out on top both times.
7A-7 at East Bay
Tuesday: No. 3 Plant City vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech, 5; No. 4 Brandon vs. No. 5 East Bay, 7; Wednesday: No. 2 Strawberry Crest vs. Plant City-TBT winner, 5; No. 1 Durant vs. Brandon-East Bay winner, 7; Thursday: final, 7
Skinny: Durant is possibly Hillsborough County’s volleyball story of the year. The Cougars, who finished a respectable 12-5 last season, have yet to lose a match in 2013, and they grabbed four consecutive big wins early by winning the Holy Names invitational. That resume should be enough to topple even the next best team, 15-8 Strawberry Crest.
7A-8 at Freedom
Tuesday: No. 4 Sickles vs. No. 5 Gaither, 7; Wednesday: No. 1 Steinbrenner (1) vs. Sickles-Gaither winner, 6; No. 3 Freedom vs. No. 2 Wiregrass Ranch, 7:30; Friday: final, 7
Skinny: Steinbrenner ended its season with two big wins — against Plant and King — adding some strength of schedule to the Warriors’ 16-2 record. Wiregrass Ranch will likely be top-seeded Steinbrenner’s biggest competition, but the Warriors beat the Bulls 3-1, 3-0 in the regular season.
6A-9 at Leto
Monday: No. 3 Chamberlain vs. No. 6 Lennard, 2; No. 5 Jefferson vs. No. 4 Armwood, 4; No. 1 King vs. No. 8 Blake, 6; No. 2 Hillsborough vs. No. 7 Leto, 8; Wednesday: Chamberlain-Lennard winner vs. Leto-Hillsborough winner, 6; King-Blake winner vs. Jefferson-Armwood winner, 8; Thursday; final, 7
Skinny: There’s not a whole lot of postseason power in this district; King (11-3), Hillsborough (13-5) and Chamberlain (9-8) have the only winning records in the eight-team group. The Lions and the Terriers swept every other team in the district during the regular season, so the two will likely square off in the final.
5A-9 at Spoto
Tuesday: No. 3 Spoto vs. No. 2 Middleton, 7; Thursday: No. 1 Robinson vs. Spoto-Middleton winner, 7
Skinny: The three teams in the district have just 13 combined wins, so really it could be anyone’s for the taking.
4A-10 at Tampa Catholic
Tuesday: No. 1 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 4 Booker, 5; No. 2 Tampa Catholic vs. No. 3 Academy of the Holy Names, 7; Thursday: final, 7
Skinny: This district has just four teams, but could be the most contentious. Tampa Catholic, Holy Names and Berkeley Prep are three of the best teams in the county. And while the Bucs are the favorites, the Terrapins and the Jaguars are certainly capable of forging an upset, like the ones the Bucs have succumbed to already this season.
3A-7 at Tampa Prep
Monday: No. 5 Brooks-DeBartolo vs. No. 4 Seffner Christian, 6; Tuesday: No. 3 Bishop McLaughlin vs. No. 2 Carrollwood Day, 5; No. 1 Tampa Prep vs. Seffner-BD winner, 6:30; Thursday: final, 6:30
Skinny: Tampa Prep is on an eight-match win streak — including victories against Carrollwood Day, AHN and Berkeley Prep. It seems the Patriots are the only team in this district that could top the hot Terrapins, though Bishop McLaughlin, despite falling to both teams in the regular season, could surprise people.
2A-7 at Academy at the Lakes
Tuesday: No. 3 AATL vs. No. 2 Cambridge Christian, 6; Thursday: No. 1 Tampa Bay HEAT vs. Cambridge, AATL winner, 7
Skinny: Tampa Bay HEAT has almost more wins than Cambridge Christian and AATL combined, so it’s certainly the team to beat in this small district. With a 17-3 record, TBH has flexed its muscle against mediocre teams, so the postseason should tell us a lot.
2A-8 at Keswick Christian
Monday: No. 4 Hernando Christian vs. No. 5 Citrus Park Christian, 5; No. 3 Bayshore Christian vs. No. 6 Lakeside Christian, 6:30; Tuesday: No. 2 Canterbury vs. Bayshore-Lakeside winner, 5; No. 1 Keswick Christian vs. HCA-Citrus Park winner, 6:30; Thursday: final, 6:30
Skinny: The 13-11 Crusaders did enough to earn the top seed, so anyone could step up and take a district made up of teams with similar records. Keswick and Canterbury’s only district losses were to each other, so a final between those two teams could be interesting.
Top 10 players to watch
1. OH Sidney Brown, Berkeley Prep: The Times’ all-Suncoast and all-Hillsborough County Player of the Year in 2012 is still the best player around, and she leads all players with 316 kills (5.1 per game).
2. OH Karissa Rhoades, Bloomingdale: Rhoades all but single-handedly got the Bulls back into its latest match with Plant. Rhoades is third in Hillsborough County in average kills per game (4.7).
3. OH Victoria Trueheart, Tampa Bay HEAT: The junior can hit hard: she averages a Hillsborough County-high 5.1 kills per game and has 51 aces in 52 games.
4. OH Lexi Thompson, Durant: The Ole Miss commit averages 4.4 kills per game, tied for fourth best in Hillsborough County.
5. OH Kaitlyn Sibson, Plant: The senior’s veteran influence on a young team can be intangible, at times, but Sibson has mastered the art of keeping the Panthers alive, averaging 4.1 digs per game.
6. OH Courtney Vogler, AHN: The 6-foot-2, UNC-bound Jaguar’s height demands attention, and she uses it to her advantage — averaging four kills and almost a block per game.
7. MB Terra Brooks, Strawberry Crest: Brooks has 230 kills, almost double any other player on the Chargers’ squad.
8. OH Corey Perkins, Tampa Prep: the junior had a big week against AHN and Berkeley Prep — totaling 32 total kills — so we know Perkins steps up in big-time situations.
9. MH Michayla Williams, King: the sophomore leads the Lions in kills and boasts a hitting percentage of .335.
10. S Casey Brynjolfsson, Carrollwood Day: Brynjolfsson commands the court, averaging 9.1 assists and an ace per game — both top-three totals in Hillsborough County.