Thursday, May 24, 2018
Sports

Durant volleyball faces tough road in district tournament

Durant proved emphatically it is the class of the three Plant City area high school volleyball teams this year.

But a week from now the Cougars' season could be over while Plant City and Strawberry Crest are getting ready for the playoffs.

Such is life in by far the toughest volleyball district in Tampa Bay. Durant on Tuesday raised its record to an impressive 18-4 by sweeping at Plant City -— yet the Cougars are just the fourth seed for next week's Class 8A, District 7 tournament.

All three local teams will be in action early next week and hope to still be playing on Thursday. That's the scheduled date for their respective district finals, and any team that reaches that stage is playoff bound. District champs get to host for at least the first round of the playoffs while the runnerups must travel.

Home court may be a big deal for Durant next week as Cougar fans — assuming Durant wins its tourney opener against Newsome — will be called on to rattle 24-1 Wharton

"Absolutely home court should be a big help," said Durant first-year head coach Brittany Wilson. "We've got a tough path, first Newsome and then Wharton. But we're playing pretty well."

Wharton was undefeated until very recently and is paced by the top player in the district, senior Caci Andreychuk, daughter of former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk.

Durant, Plant and Bloomingdale all ended up tied for second after going 4-2 in district play. They all lost to Wharton and split their matches against one another, with the Cougars falling at Bloomingdale early on in the season. But the Cougars ended up on the wrong end of the three-way tiebreaker based on road wins, only having one in district play.

That means to get to the finals Durant will have to beat Wharton in the Wednesday semis; first up the Cougars must dispose of Newsome in a match set for Tuesday night at 7.

Based on Tuesday's performance against Plant City the Cougars are serious. Though Plant City is having a fine season the Raiders were overmatched.

"Durant hits the ball extremely hard," said Raider head coach Jessica Thornton. "Of course we helped out by not putting up much of an effort on the blocks. Still I feel good about what we're trying to achieve."

Thornton remains excited about her core group of young talent, but the flip side of that is the lack of experience at least for now. The Raiders have no seniors. Junior Alex Arnold and sophomores Noelle Dietrich and Kasi Maguire are their leading hitters.

Plant City (6-6) is the third seed for the 7A-8 tournament and will play Monday at 5 p.m. against bottom-seeded Tampa Bay Tech. Brandon is hosting and is in the other semifinal. Assuming the Raiders win they will take on No. 2 seed Hillsborough in Tuesday's semifinal (also at 5).

That's a match Thornton can't wait for. Hillsborough defeated the Raiders Oct. 11 in a match where Plant City won a game 25-8 but dropped the other three.

"That one took me a while to get over," she said. And Strawberry Crest is geared up for another trip to the postseason. The Chargers are the No. 1 seed in 6A-11 and wlll likely match up with Armwood in the semifinals Tuesday at 5. Strawberry Crest rolled the Hawks in their only regular season meeting.

Darek Sharp can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFLís new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFLís new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday night, Washington Capitals captain A...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

USF wins doubleheader to stay alive in AAC tourney

Its American Athletic Conference tournament hopes flat-lining, USF's baseball team has spent the past 30 or so hours reviving itself with plain ol' CPR.Clutch Pitching and Resolve.Needing back-to-back wins on a humid Clearwater day to remain alive, t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rivals: Only four cities produce more blue-chip recruits than Tampa

Rivals: Only four cities produce more blue-chip recruits than Tampa

Only four cities in the country have produced more four- or five-star prospects in the Rivals era than Tampa.That's according to a little number-crunching from Rivals' Mike Farrell.Tampa has produced 48 blue-chip prospects since the site began in 200...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

Having lost a pair of close games, the Rays will try again tonight to beat the Red Sox, and will have LHP Blake Snell on the mound.SS Willy Adames is in the lineup for the Rays for the third and what is expected to be the final time before being sent...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs reach agreement on a four-year, $14.82-million contract with first round pick Vita Vea

Bucs reach agreement on a four-year, $14.82-million contract with first round pick Vita Vea

The Bucs have reached an agreement on a contract with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to receive a four-year contract worth $14.82-million that includes ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Licht promotes three in Bucsí scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucsí scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightningís wild ride

Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightningís wild ride

TAMPA ó Hours before the puck drops at Amalie Arena for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew boss talks about putting off any sign of the end for as long as possible."We donít want to see the front-end loaders," says Tom Miracle, who...
Updated: 3 hours ago