TAMPA — Plant coach Leanna Taylor likes to say her squad plays all season to get ready for the real season — the playoffs.
For the two-time defending Class 5A state champion Panthers, the start of the playoffs looks a lot like the regular season.
Plant, using a mix of regular starters and reserves, dominated its Class 5A, District 10 semifinal, defeating Hillsborough with ease in three games (25-5, 25-7, 25-6).
"We're doing the things we need to do," Taylor said. "We've been working on our communication and it could be seen during the match.
"Our hustle was there and we were focused."
Plant (22-3) faces Leto (11-6) in the final tonight.
Leto advanced to the district final (and region tournament) by topping Chamberlain 32-30, 23-25, 25-21, 25-15. Leto's only district loss during the regular season came against Plant in September.
The win was the eighth in a row for Plant and the 14th in its past 15 matches. In fact, the Panthers have not dropped a match since a loss to Louisville (Ky. ) Sacred Heart in the Nike Challenge Tournament in Illinois almost a month ago.
Junior outside hitter Maddie Martin led the Panthers with 12 kills while senior setter Ariel Ley and junior outside hitter Danielle Erb each added nine kills. Junior libero Ali McCurdy had eight service aces and 12 digs for the Panthers.