Wednesday, January 17, 2018

HomeTeam 25: Volleyball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Plant

Last season: 28-4

This week: Thursday vs. Bloomingdale

Outlook: The Panthers advanced to the Class 8A final last season. Several key players return this season, including top hitter Camryn Vogler, a junior. Senior libero Bailey Wilson, sophomore outside hitter Birdie Frierson, junior setter Molly Flemming and senior setter Sarah Moffitt all return. New coach Vanja Todorovic has a loaded team that could get back to the state final.

RELATED: Volleyball powers Berkeley Prep, Plant enter season with new coaches

2. Berkeley Prep

Last season: 20-8

This week: Tuesday at Tampa Catholic, Thursday vs. Brooks DeBartolo

Outlook: Meet the new coach, almost the same as the old coach. Mackenzie Dagostino takes over for her dad, Randy, after serving as an assistant last season. The Bucs probably won't skip a beat. Seniors Jenna Hampton, Amanda Phegley, Grace Varsames and Kellyn Trowse are all key contributors. Hampton and Phegley are both committed to Penn State.

Eve Edelheit | Times

3. Palm Harbor University

Last season: 19-3-1

This week: Tuesday vs. Sunlake

Outlook: The Hurricanes went deep in the playoffs before losing to a loaded Bradenton Manatee team. Hurricanes coach Dexter Rogers believes junior Abby Strong is the best setter in the county and said the same about junior libero Zeena Khazendar. Junior setter Jessica Angelo had 123 kills last season despite missing matches due to injury. Junior outside hitter Malia Barker adds to a strong junior class.

4. Mitchell

Last season: 22-5

This week: Wednesday at Anclote, Thursday at Ridgewood

Outlook: Several returners equal optimism for coach Heidi Michaels. Senior Morgin Tew, senior Jessie Mooney, junior Kennedy DeLuca, senior Kamdyn Moore, senior Emily Mohrmann, senior Mariella Haimes and senior Selena Kriston are eager to return to the state final four after getting tripped up in regionals a year ago.

RELATED: Plenty of unfinished business for Mitchell volleyball

5. Clearwater

Last season: 14-10

This week: No matches scheduled

Outlook: The Tornadoes have five senior returners and plenty of talented underclassmen. Abigail Tess, Hannah Sanders, Hailey Bosetti, Mariah Ramirez and Kyleigh Dunn are all seniors with experience. Depth shouldn't be a problem.

RELATED: Vibe is good around Clearwater volleyball this season

6. Fivay

Last season: 22-5

This week: Tuesday vs. Ridgewood, Thursday vs. Sunlake

Outlook: The Falcons were 9-0 in Class 6A, District 8 last season. Senior libero Lindsey Christianson and senior outside hitter Kirbea Harrell are three-year starters and will lead the team. Head coach Nikki Pollock will have to replace six seniors, but she said there is a good core of returning players that will make the Falcons competitive again.

Lance Rothstein | Special to the Times

7. East Lake

Last season: 19-5

This week: No matches scheduled

Outlook: The Eagles should be one of the top teams in Pinellas. Seniors Jessie Hansen and Kayce Rhoden return and senior outside hitter Kylie Stojak was very good at the net for Palm Harbor University last season. Junior Sarah Black will provide blocking potential at the net. Five sophomores and three freshmen also will vie for playing time.

8. Newsome

Last season: 16-8

This week: Tuesday at Lennard

Outlook: The Wolves were second behind a good Sarasota Riverview team in Class 9A, District 6 last season. They look to be just as competitive this year. Senior Camila Vazquez (243 kills) and junior Andrea Fabregas (170 kills) are returning offensive threats. Senior Parker Webster had 164 digs and junior Marissa Northrop had 420 assists.

9. Robinson

Last season: 20-10-1

This week: Tuesday at Bloomingdale

Outlook: The Knights were a playoff team last season but must replace some key players, including libero Emily Draper. Senior Elly Frierson and junior Kristin Werdine are strong at the net. Seniors Ashley Osiason and Christiana Rolack will also play big roles.

10. Clearwater Central Catholic

Last season: 23-4

This week: No matches scheduled

Outlook: Middle hitter Cameron Fitzpatrick returns after recording 328 kills as a junior. Junior middle hitter Pammy Robinson is also an offensive threat. The Marauders are relatively young, so it may take some time to jell.

11. Carrollwood Day

Last season: 18-5

This week: Thursday vs. Tampa Bay HEAT

Outlook: The Patriots could be very good. They were 10-0 in Class 3A, District 4 and could do the same again this season with a veteran lineup. Senior outside hitters Gabriela Quarles and Krissy Lloyd, junior outside hitter Ally-Reese Williams, junior libero Lauren Ianni, senior setter Kendel Saigol and eighth-grade middle hitter Ava Swain all return.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

12. Wharton

Last season: 18-9

This week: No matches scheduled

Outlook: The Wildcats were second behind Plant in Class 8A, District 8 last season. Top hitter Kathryn Attar graduated, but there are several other good players. Sophomore Jeanette Henderson had 407 digs last season and 131 kills. Junior Gracie Viloria and sophomore Ella Hileman were the top ball handlers.

13. Indian Rocks Christian

Last season: 14-12

This week: Tuesday at St. Petersburg, Thursday vs. Dunedin, Friday vs. Admiral Farragut

Outlook: The Golden Eagles have some talented players. Senior libero Elise Moralobo has the school record for digs and has averaged close to 500 digs since her freshman year. Senior outside hitter Rachael Difrancesco and junior setter Ashley Ferguson are also talented and experienced.

14. Steinbrenner

Last season: 16-7

This week: Tuesday vs. Chamberlain, Thursday vs. Durant

Outlook: The Warriors are in a tough Class 8A, District 8, which includes Plant and Wharton. But they have three key returners who will keep them competitive. Junior middle blocker Lexi Eaves led the team last season with 210 kills and had 42 blocks. Senior defensive specialist Mia Clark had 149 digs and senior outside hitter Jacqui Ramsey had 164 digs.

15. Weeki Wachee

Last season: 21-9

This week: Tuesday at Citrus, Thursday vs. Central

Outlook: Yes, top hitter Miranda Werkmeister and setter Sarah Asbury are gone, but there are plenty of good players left. Juniors Brooke Sereda (273 kills) and Seytia Hill (117 kills) return.

16. Nature Coast

Last season: 15-9

This week: Thursday vs. Citrus

Outlook: The Sharks have eight returning starters, including senior outside hitter Faith Williams, senior setter Brooke Riddle, junior Alexi Hubbard and sophomore Madison Clark. Coach Emily Gore said there are also four newcomers who could make an impact.

17. Tarpon Springs

Last season: 18-9

This week: Tuesday at Largo

Outlook: The Spongers only graduated two seniors, so there is a good core of players returning. Junior outside hitters Anya Reinhard and Mackenzie Dufresne are the top players.

18. Wiregrass Ranch

Last season: 16-8

This week: Tuesday at Cypress Creek, Wednesday at Pasco, Thursday vs. Zephyrhills

Outlook: While some key players graduated, the Bulls still have a bulk of their offense back. Senior Elanny Breton led the team with 143 kills last season. Seniors Alyson Clark and Caroline Eichelberger also had more than 100 kills in 2016. The Bulls are in Class 8A, District 8 with Plant, Steinbrenner and Wharton, so the schedule will be difficult.

19. Northside Christian

Last season: 18-5

This week: Friday vs. Orangewood Christian

Outlook: The Mustangs lost some key players, but there is young talent that will keep them competitive. Sophomore setter Ashley Russell returns after recording 505 assists as a freshman. Sophomore Hannah Alstott had 227 digs. Junior Morgan Madasz was second on the team with 135 kills.

20. Tampa Bay HEAT

Last season: 16-8

This week: Tuesday vs. Bishop McLaughlin, Thursday at Carrollwood Day

Outlook: Top hitter Catherine Trueheart has graduated, but many of the key players from last season are back. Senior setter Allison Rogers returns, as does senior Madison Lee and junior Morgan Lee. Junior Abigail Casiano had 226 kills last season, second behind Trueheart.

Jarrett Guthrie | Special to the Times

21. St. Petersburg

Last season: 19-7

This week: Tuesday vs. Indian Rocks Christian, Thursday at Tampa Catholic

Outlook: The Green Devils will have to rely on some younger players, but there is experience. Senior libero Jill Kilgroe and middle hitter Annabelle Feller were key players last season.

22. Academy of the Holy Names

Last season: 17-7

This week: Tuesday at Sarasota Military Academy

Outlook: The Jaguars graduated five seniors, but coach Laura Praetorius says her young team should compete in the district. Senior MB/OH Katherine Pickard had 202 kills in 2016, second on the team. Junior Brianna Benito, senior Vanessa Davila and junior Hannah Smallwood are returners who should make a difference.

23. Calvary Christian

Last season: 16-6

This week: No matches this week

Outlook: The Warriors are a bit banged up to start the season, according to coach Caleb Sibert, with four starters out with injuries. They will all be back by midseason. Senior setter Caroline Burgess, junior outside hitter Jess Berg and junior transfer libero Grace Ball will be key players.

24. Tampa Catholic

Last season: 16-10

This week: Tuesday vs. Berkeley Prep, Thursday vs. St. Petersburg

Outlook: The Crusaders are in the very difficult Class 5A, District 9, which includes CCC, Berkeley Prep and Academy of the Holy Names. Junior Elissa Alcantara had 292 kills last season, tops on the team. Blocks leader Calyn Quinn and setters Alexis Forrester and Riley Del Giudice also return.

25. Osceola

Last season: 18-3

This week: No matches scheduled

Outlook: The Warriors did lose setter Alyssa Valdez, but coach Kacee Crumpacker believes there are enough returners for a winning season. Outside hitters Kalli Cors and Abby Ness and middle hitter Rebecca Scordino are key returners. Junior Jordan Chapman steps in at setter.

On the bubble: Land O'Lakes, Shorecrest, Hillsborough, Hernando, East Bay, Ridgewood, Academy at the Lakes


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