TAMPA — Brandon put up a fight this time, at least for a while.
Hung tough in the first game. Started the second with a bang.
But by the third game, the Eagles had inflicted nary a scratch on Plant, merely covering up on the ropes like a beaten fighter.
The Panthers, ranked 10th in the country, withstood an early challenge and coasted to the Class 6A, District 8 title with a 25-19, 25-15, 25-10 victory Thursday night over the host Eagles.
The Panthers, the Class 5A state champs the past three season, have won 26 straight sets since their only loss on Oct. 3.
They will compete in the 6A region playoffs for the first time.
"We don't know what's out there like we have in the past," said middle hitter Leah Jordan, "but we're ready."
Brandon (19-6) was ready at the outset Thursday, leading 8-7 at one point and trailing only after a Nicole Higgins kill.
Plant (24-1) was just getting warmed up, though. Maddie Martin delivered three crushing kills in a 6-1 run, and added another to set up a game point she finished off with an ace.
The Eagles shook off the disappointment in the second game, scoring seven straight points to take a 7-3 lead. But then the ceiling caved in — two kills by Jordan, two more from Martin and the serving of Alex Johnson fueled a 13-3 spurt, and Johnson was dominant at net the rest of the way.
"They played really hard the first game," Johnson said. "They really wanted to win that first game."
Plant coach Leanna Taylor said the Eagles came out and played with emotion, but it turned out to be what she calls a "false peak."
The valley, then, was the final game, with Plant closing it out with a 12-2 run. The Panthers won 34 of the final 46 points.