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6A volleyball: Plant heads back to state with ease

TAMPA — Thorough beatings are nothing new to Orlando Dr. Phillips.

Typically, though, it hasn't been on the receiving end.

But as Dr. Phillips discovered Saturday, Plant is no typical team. In dominating fashion, the nationally ranked Plant Panthers easily defeated Dr. Phillips' Panthers 25-8, 25-19, 25-13 to reach their fourth straight final four, where they will attempt to win their fourth consecutive title.

"We don't take that for granted," Plant coach Leanna Taylor said.

Dr. Phillips (26-3) by no means played poorly.

Plant (27-1), which is No. 8 in the national rankings, was simply that good. Especially early, when it jumped out to a 7-0 lead and won a mistake-free opening game without breaking a sweat.

"You could definitely see it in their eyes once they realized we were better than they had heard," Plant outside hitter Alex Johnson said.

Dr. Phillips had no answer for Johnson (13 kills) or Plant middle hitter Maddie Martin (21 kills). Setter Becca Howard (40 assists) ran the offense to perfection and libero Ali McCurdy (15 digs) keyed the defense with several eye-opening digs.

"Everyone did everything well," Martin said.

To its credit, Dr. Phillips never quit. In the second game, it was even with Plant most of the way (16-all at one time) before Plant pulled away. Game 3 was never close.

"We knew they were good," Dr. Phillips outside hitter Megan Hodges said.

Two more wins would give Plant seven titles this decade.

"Our goal all year has been to get to state," McCurdy said. "It's finally here."

Plant d>> Orlando Dr>> Phillips

25-8, 25-19, 25-13

6A volleyball: Plant heads back to state with ease 11/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 14, 2009 7:00pm]
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