Wednesday, March 21, 2018

HomeTeam 25: Volleyball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Plant (1-0)

This week: Thursday vs. Wharton

The buzz: The Panthers' first two weeks of the regular season aren't very taxing. The only match last week was a 3-0 sweep of Bloomingdale. This week it's just a Class 8A, District 8 match at home against Wharton. Plant did get swept by Venice in the preseason, so there is room for improvement.

2. Berkeley Prep (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney,

The buzz: The Bucs are off and running after two wins in the opening week. They were both Class 5A, District 9 matches, so just like that the Bucs are the team to catch. Just one match this week, but it is a district match.

3. Palm Harbor University (1-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Seminole, Thursday at Calvary Christian

The buzz: A sweep of Sunlake started the season off right for the Hurricanes. An interesting match at Calvary Christian awaits on Thursday. PHU's veteran roster with hitters throughout the lineup is going to be hard to stop all season.

4. Mitchell (2-0)

This week: Wednesday vs. Hudson, Thursday at Land O'Lakes

The buzz: The Mustangs also got a preseason win over Shorecrest, so they haven't been beaten in three matches. Both of the regular-season wins last week were sweeps. Thursday's match against Land O'Lakes will determine who is the early front-runner in Class 7A, District 8.

5. Clearwater (0-0)

This week: Monday at Largo, Tuesday vs. Dixie Hollins

The buzz: The Tornadoes should have an easy week, and with the returning players and young talent they shouldn't have much of a problem in Class 7A, District 9.

6. Fivay (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Zephyrhills, Wednesday vs. Wiregrass Ranch

The buzz: The Falcons picked up a well-earned 3-2 win over Sunlake last season after sweeping Ridgewood. Both matches this week may be a test for a team that has loads of potential.

7. East Lake (0-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. St. Petersburg, Thursday vs. Largo

The buzz: No matches last week for the Eagles, but the season starts with a good one against the Green Devils. There is a lot of promise this season, and East Lake is surely antsy to get on the court.

8. Newsome (1-0)

This week: Tuesday at Sarasota Riverview, Saturday vs. Manatee

The buzz: The Wolves had no problem in their opener against Lennard, but this week is a different story. Both opponents are state-tournament caliber teams, so win or lose Newsome will find out early where it stands.

9. Clearwater Central Catholic (0-0)

This week: Tuesday at Sarasota Military Academy

The buzz: The Marauders start slowly before getting into the heart of their schedule in September. This could allow a young team to jell before some big tournaments in the middle of the season.

10. Carrollwood Day (1-0)

This week: Thursday vs. Shorecrest

The buzz: Just one match last week to start the season, but it was a nice win — straight sets over Tampa Bay HEAT. A competitive match against Shorecrest awaits.

11. Wharton (1-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Bloomingdale, Thursday at Plant

The buzz: The Wildcats will find out how good they are after this week. Both matches should be a challenge, and Plant is a district opponent. The season did start off with an encouraging 3-0 win over Plant City.

12. Steinbrenner (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Riverview, Thursday at Sickles

The buzz: The Warriors swept both Chamberlain and Durant to start the season. Senior Jacqui Ramsey and junior Lexi Eaves appear to be top-line hitters up front. Sickles is the first district match of the season for the Warriors.

13. Weeki Wachee (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Springstead, Thursday vs. Lecanto

The buzz: Hornets' coach Kelly Werkmeister has a young team but she was still optimistic. So far, so good. The Hornets swept both Central and Citrus last week to take an early lead in Class 6A, District 7. Lecanto is another district opponent this week.

14. Nature Coast (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Lecanto

The buzz: Like Weeki Wachee, the Sharks got off to a 2-0 start in Class 6A, District 7 with sweeps of Central and Citrus. Sophomore Madison Clark already has 24 kills in two matches.

15. Tarpon Springs (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Boca Ciega, Thursday vs. Bradenton Southeast

The buzz: The Spongers picked up two PCAC north wins last week over Countryside and Largo. The matches this week don't appear overly taxing, so Tarpon Springs could be off to a nice start.

16. Wiregrass Ranch (3-0)

This week: Wednesday at Fivay, Thursday at Leto, Friday at Tampa Prep

The buzz: The Bulls have a stocked schedule early. Three matches last week followed by three this week. They haven't dropped a game yet, but Fivay should provide the biggest challenge yet.

17. Northside Christian (1-0)

This week: Tuesday at St. Petersburg Catholic

The buzz: The Mustangs were pushed by Orangewood Christian last week but pulled out a 3-2 win. This week's match is the first in Class 4A, District 4 this season.

18. Indian Rocks Christian (2-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Academy of the Holy Names, Thursday at Seffner Christian

The buzz: The season started with a tough 3-2 loss to St. Petersburg but the Golden Eagles bounced back with two straight wins during a busy opening week. Another tough week awaits, including a district game against Seffner Christian.

19. Robinson (0-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Plant City, Thursday vs. Middleton

The buzz: The Knights dropped their first match of the season 3-2 to Bloomingdale. This week should provide a bounce back. Middleton is a Class 6A, District 9 match so it has some extra meaning.

20. Tampa Bay HEAT (1-1)

This week: Tuesday at Sarasota Out-of-Door, Thursday vs. Keswick Christian

The buzz: A narrow 3-2 win over Bishop McLaughlin was followed by a 3-0 loss to St. Petersburg. Three matches this week will further determine the kind of team the HEAT has.

21. Academy of the Holy Names (1-0)

This week: Tuesday at Indian Rocks Christian, Thursday vs. Brooks DeBartolo

The buzz: The Jaguars graduated most of their starters from a year ago, but a 3-0 win over Sarasota Military Academy last week proves they can still play at a high level. This week is not easy, and Brooks DeBartolo is the first Class 5A, District 9 match of the season.

22. Calvary Christian (0-0)

This week: Thursday vs. Palm Harbor University

The buzz: No matches last week, so the Warriors had an extra week to prepare. The trip to Palm Harbor U. will not be easy, but coach Caleb Sibert expects his young team to be competitive.

23. Tampa Catholic (1-1)

This week: Wednesday vs. Tampa Prep, Friday-Saturday at Lake Highland Showcase

The buzz: A 3-0 loss to Berkeley Prep was followed by a 3-0 win over St. Petersburg. This week is a big one, especially the tournament in Lake Highland. The Crusaders will get an early taste of tournament play.

24. St. Petersburg (1-1)

This week: Tuesday at East Lake

The buzz: The Green Devils need to shake off a 3-0 loss to Tampa Catholic, and it's not going to be easy. East Lake is a district match and a talented team. St. Petersburg is young and likely needs to rely on defense, which is so far being led by junior Jill Kilgroe and her 33 digs.

25. Tampa Prep (3-0)

This week: Tuesday at Cambridge Christian, Wednesday at Tampa Catholic, Friday vs. Wiregrass Ranch

The buzz: The Terrapins rolled through the first week with three wins, all in straight games. Another big week awaits, but they appear ready for the challenge.

On the bubble: Academy at the Lakes (3-0), Shorecrest (0-0), Land O'Lakes (2-0), Osceola (0-1), Hillsborough (0-1)

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