Sunday, September 23, 2018

HomeTeam 25: Volleyball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Plant (10-2)

This week: Wednesday vs. Durant, Friday-Saturday at Dig For Cure tournament

The buzz: Thanks to a 3-0 win over Steinbrenner last week, the Panthers locked up Class 8A, District 8. That was not unexpected. The tournament this weekend should be a good final test before the chase for a state championship begins.

2. Berkeley Prep (15-2)

This week: Today vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, Friday-Saturday at Swing for the Cure tournament

The buzz: The Bucs finish off Class 5A, District 9 play against CCC. Then it's off to one more tournament to get ready for next week's district tournament, where Berkeley Prep will be the overwhelming favorite.

3. Palm Harbor University (12-0)

This week: Today vs. Clearwater, Wednesday vs. St. Petersburg (PCAC tournament)

The buzz: The Hurricanes have a very good chance of ending the regular season undefeated. They likely will play Clearwater twice this week if things go as planned at the PCAC tournament. The Tornadoes face Tarpon Springs in the other PCAC semifinal. Either way, PHU will be challenged before the postseason begins.

4. Clearwater (14-2)

This week: Today at Palm Harbor University, Wednesday vs. Tarpon Springs (PCAC tournament), Thursday vs. Lakewood

The buzz: The last week of the regular season is not an easy one for the Tornadoes. Either way it will get them ready for the Class 7A, District 9 tournament. They are 6-0 in the district this season, so anything short of a championship will be disappointing.

5. King (20-1)

This week: Today vs. East Bay, Wednesday at Brandon

The buzz: The Lions' perfect season ended in the final of the Wharton tournament. But there were some quality wins in the tournament, including Academy at the Lakes and Lakewood Ranch. Not a demanding week, which sets up nicely for the district tournament.

6. Carrollwood Day (15-2)

This week: Today at Cambridge Christian, Thursday vs. Bishop McLaughlin

The buzz: The Patriots are the top seed in nine-team Class 4A, District 4 with only the Cambridge Christian match remaining. They have won 12 straight and should make it 14 heading into districts.

7. Tampa Bay HEAT (16-2)

This week: Today at Seffner Christian, Wednesday at Universal Academy

The buzz: The week started with a 3-1 win over Shorecrest. They completed the Class 3A, District 4 schedule undefeated and will be the top seed in next week's tournament. Madison Lee and Abigail Casiano have nearly 200 kills each to pace the team.

8. Robinson (18-3)

This week: Monday vs. Steinbrenner, Wednesday vs. Newsome, Friday-Saturday at Swing for the Cure tournament

The buzz: The Knights have to be one of the hottest teams out there. They were a late replacement in the Mustang Invitational and won the tournament. Then came three more wins, including a big one Monday night over Steinbrenner. This is a team that could have a long postseason.

9. Nature Coast (10-3)

This week: Wednesday vs. Springstead, Thursday at Seven Rivers Christian

The buzz: The Sharks are the top seed in Class 6A, District 7. They did lose to Springstead last week but bounced back with a win over Crystal River. Sophomore Madison Clark has been big at the net with 122 kills.

10. Fivay (17-3)

This week: Thursday at Mitchell

The buzz: The Falcons are the top seed in Class 6A, District 8. In fact, they are the only team in the district with a winning record. Kirbea Harrell is the first choice on offense and has a team high 235 kills and 239 digs.

11. Northside Christian (13-3)

This week: Thursday vs. St. Petersburg Catholic, Friday at Academy at the Lakes

The buzz: The Mustangs defeated Indian Rocks Christian on Monday in the final Class 4A, District 4 match for both schools. It was a makeup for a match postponed due to the hurricane. Northside is the third seed behind Carrollwood Day and Shorecrest, which account for two of their three losses.

12. Steinbrenner (12-4)

This week: No matches scheduled

The buzz: The Warriors have lost two straight, but they were to Plant and Robinson. With Plant in their district, the realistic playoff spot is second place in 8A-8. Steinbrenner is certainly good enough to be that team.

13. Bishop McLaughlin (13-2)

This week: Thursday at Carrollwood Day, Friday vs. Tampa Catholic

The buzz: The Hurricanes take a step up this week with two tough matches to end the regular season. They are the No. 2 seed in Class 3A, District 4 behind Tampa Bay HEAT. Audrey and Gabriella Koenig have been the offensive threats and setter Madison Janning has 263 assists.

14. Wharton (12-3)

This week: Wednesday at Hillsborough

The buzz: The Wildcats hosted a tournament over the weekend and won it. They beat previously undefeated King in the final. That's good momentum heading into the difficult 8A-8 tournament.

15. Tarpon Springs (15-5)

This week: Today at East Lake, Wednesday vs. Clearwater (PCAC tournament)

The buzz: Coach Patrick Sneed knew the schedule was back loaded with tough teams and it may be a difficult stretch. That's been true so far. They have gone 1-3 in their past four matches and this week is just as difficult. But the district is not that hard and this should prepare them for the postseason.

16. Mitchell (16-7)

This week: Today at Gulf, Wednesday at River Ridge, Thursday vs. Fivay

The buzz: The Mustangs are the top seed in 7A-8. This week is about getting in some matches before the postseason begins. They have won four straight matches and didn't lose a game.

17. Tampa Catholic (16-7)

This week: Friday at Bishop McLaughlin

The buzz: The Crusaders snapped a three-match losing streak by winning three last week. They are one of four teams that should battle for the second playoff spot in 5A-9 behind Berkeley Prep. Friday's match offers one final test.

18. Wiregrass Ranch (17-5)

This week: Today at Land O'Lakes, Thursday vs. Classical Prep

The buzz: The Bulls defeated Seffner Christian in straight sets Monday. The rest of the week is all about getting ready for a highly competitive 8A-8 tournament.

19. Bloomingdale (9-3)

This week: Today vs. Riverview, Thursday vs. Leto

The buzz: The Bulls have reeled off four straight wins, all 3-0. They are the top seed in 8A-9. Gabrielle Culhane leads the team with 85 kills. Jada Flowers has 118 assists and Camryn Huet has added 112.

20. Land O'Lakes (14-7)

This week: Today vs. Wiregrass Ranch, Wednesday at Gulf

The buzz: The Gators are second in 7A-8 behind Mitchell. They have won three straight matches after the Mustang Invitational tournament. Wiregrass Ranch will be a good challenge prior to the postseason.

21. Academy of the Holy Names (9-5)

This week: Wednesday vs. Tampa Prep, Friday-Saturday at Swing for the Cure tournament

The buzz: The Jaguars lost to two good teams last week, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and Carrollwood Day. They hope to gain some confidence this week prior to a tough district tournament that includes Berkeley Prep, Cardinal Mooney, Tampa Catholic and Clearwater Central Catholic.

22. Springstead (14-5)

This week: Today vs. Central, Wednesday at Nature Coast

The buzz: The season started well for the Eagles, but they have lost three of their past five. Not the kind of momentum needed going into the 7A-8 tournament, where they are the No. 3 seed and will open against Land O'Lakes.

23. Clearwater Central Catholic (8-5)

This week: Today at Berkeley Prep, Thursday at Indian Rocks Christian, Friday-Saturday at Dig Pink Invitational

The buzz: The Marauders lost some matches early due to cancellations. They will have several matches under their belt by the time districts start next week. It helps having starting libero Pammy Robinson back from illness. CCC could make some noise at the district tournament.

24. St. Petersburg (12-6)

This week: Wednesday vs. Palm Harbor University (PCAC tournament), Thursday vs. Northeast

The buzz: The Green Devils have won three straight since the Mustang Invitational. PHU will be a tough one on Thursday in the PCAC semifinal. They will likely challenge East Lake for the second spot in the 8A-10 tournament next week.

25. Durant (8-6)

This week: Wednesday at Plant

The buzz: The season ends with a bang against No. 1 Plant. But that is preparation for the 8A-9 tournament, where they are the No. 2 seed in the seven team district. The Cougars beat every team in the district except Bloomingdale, so expect those two to meet in the final and advance to regionals.

On the bubble: Academy at the Lakes (12-10), Seffner Christian (9-8), Hillsborough (7-4), Hernando (6-6), East Lake (11-11), Newsome (8-6)

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