PALM HARBOR — Brandon came out last week and played mighty Plant tough for a game or two, and that caught the attention of Palm Harbor University standout Cassie Roy, as did the Eagles' size and swagger when they walked into the gym Wednesday night.
Which is why Roy was surprised just more than an hour later, when the Eagles walked back out of the gym after a surprising 25-6, 25-12, 25-15 thrashing administered by the red-hot Hurricanes.
"I thought they were a bigger, more aggressive team," Roy said. "I expected a lot more."
As did Brandon coach Amy Watson, who was compelled afterward to apologize to PHU coach Tara Kuk for her team's showing.
PHU (23-3) will host Plant next week, riding a crest of confidence that has the Hurricanes believing they can end a three-year, season-ending, playoff‑losing streak against the Panthers, arguably Florida's best team.
"I'm excited to play them," Roy said. "This is definitely the best team I've been on here, and the team that can give them a tough game."
They will need another flawless effort like the one put forth against Brandon. The Hurricanes dug everything, put up a wall at the net and setter Cassie Wilkinson ran the offense to perfection.
The Eagles (19-7) were unable to handle PHU's serves, and the Hurricanes made them pay. The 5-foot-8 Roy had five kills as PHU raced to a 7-0 lead, and after Brandon closed within 10-5 had three more to spark another 5-0 run.
And it never stopped. Leah McNary had two kills, Chelsea King had an ace and a kill, and PHU ran off the final 10 points to set the tone for the rest of the match.
Only once all night was Brandon able to score more than two straight points, and PHU had runs of four, four, five and five in the second game and a 10-0 burst in the third to keep the Eagles' wings clipped.
Roy had 22 kills for PHU, and McNary (11) and Chelsea King (8) also chipped in at the net.