MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Bloomingdale (18-6) at Palm Harbor University (19-7), 7 tonight: The Hurricanes won a third straight district title and made it look easy. The Bulls, who have lost to Plant three times this season, are a solid bunch. But they were handled by Lakewood in straight sets in a tournament, the same Spartans PHU dominated last week at the PCAC tournament.
Hmmm: Half of Bloomingdale’s losses are to defending state champion Plant.
Pinellas Park (12-9) at East Lake (23-2), 7 Wednesday: The Eagles look like they may be peaking and should cruise into the second round. They had little problem with the Patriots in the regular season, winning 25-9, 25-8, 25-7. The formidable front line of Lauran Eschenroeder (277 kills), Brianna McComeskey (199) and Brittnay Estes (164 kills) will be a huge challenge for Pinellas Park’s 6-foot-3 middle blocker Andrea Ezell, Mallory Leary and Kylie Miller.
Hmmm: Pinellas Park is making its first postseason appearance since 1998.
Clearwater (19-8) at Northeast (15-5), 7 Wednesday: The Vikings, 1-7 all-time in the postseason, are looking for revenge — this is a rematch of last year’s first-round Clearwater victory. Northeast beat Pinellas Park to capture the district championship for the second straight season, but the Vikings will need a huge upset to keep playing. With a healthy Nikki O’Rourke Clearwater has way too much firepower.
Hmmm: Clearwater has won 17 straight first-round playoff matches dating to 1986.
Clearwater Central Catholic (23-6) at Lake Placid (13-6), 7 Wednesday: Lake Placid won its sixth straight district title, avenging two regular-season losses by beating McKeel Academy in straight sets. The Green Dragons, though, didn’t fare as well against CCC this season, losing 25-10, 25-14 at a tournament in Bartow last month. The Marauders have played superior competition.
Hmmm: All six Marauder losses are to teams with at least 20 or more victories.
Indian Rocks Christian (22-6) at Lakeland Christian (11-12), 7 tonight: The Golden Eagles have to put the disappointment of another loss to Tampa Prep behind them as they head out to face the Vikings for the third straight season. The Golden Eagles have won 11 of 12 matches and are led by a trio — Marisa Moralobo, Madi Loebel and Emilene Lazzeri — with 200 kills or more.
Hmmm: IRC is 4-for-4 in playoff openers.
Northside Christian (16-8) at Fort Myers Evangelical (21-5), 7 tonight: The Mustangs are hobbling into the postseason, having lost four of their past five matches, including a first-ever loss to St. Stephens in the district final. Jennica Mullins (19, 19 and 18 kills) had a great three-game stretch in the district tournament and may have to be even better if the Mustangs are to advance.
Hmmm: Northside is 3-2 against Evangelical in the postseason since 2002.
Sarasota Christian (3-11) at Canterbury (24-6), 7 Wednesday: Pinellas County’s winningest team is looking to follow up a strong regular season with some of the playoff success that has eluded it. Junior hitters Mansie Hough and Megan Burgess combined for 20 kills in an earlier 25-15, 25-22, 25-21 win over Sarasota Christian.
Hmmm: The Crusaders beat Cambridge in the district final after having their season ended by the Lancers four times since 2003.