For the first time this decade, Pinellas County has a volleyball team from each classification alive in the region semifinals. Seven teams continue their quest for Lakeland, site of the state final four. All games are scheduled for 7 tonight.
Indian Rocks Chr. (17-11) at Tampa Prep (14-10)
Prognosis: Tampa Prep has defeated IRC twice this season and own an eight-match win streak over the Golden Eagles dating to 2007. Tampa Prep has bounced IRC in the region semifinals the past two seasons.
Star watch: IRC — Madison Loebel, So., Marisa Moralobo, Jr.; Tampa Prep — Latora Lofgren, Sr., Caroline Dillabough, Sr., Ericka McGriff, Jr.
Fort Myers Canterbury (20-4) at Northside Christian (19-9)
Prognosis: The Mustangs have swept Canterbury in the playoffs the past two seasons. For one of the few times all season, Northside's twin 6-foot-2 towers Kayla Walton and Jennica Mullins will not be the tallest players on the court. At 6-foot-4, Canterbury middle hitter Emmie Derback averages 0.7 blocks a game.
Star watch: Northside — Kayla Walton, Sr., Jennica Mullins, Jr., Kayla Turner, Sr.; Canterbury — Christina Carracino, Sr., Emmie Derback, Sr.
Plant (25-1) at Palm Harbor U. (23-3)
Prognosis: The Hurricanes were the best team in Pinellas during the regular season, but they host the best team in the bay area, possibly the state. How PHU performs early will be key. The Panthers have made a habit of demoralizing teams by jumping on them from the outset.
Star watch: Plant — Maddie Martin, Sr., Alex Johnson, Jr., Becca Howard, Sr.; PHU — Cassie Roy, Sr., Cassie Wilkinson, Sr., Leah McNary, Jr.
Clearwater (17-8) at East Lake (23-4)
Prognosis: Logic says East Lake should advance to its first region final since 2002. After all, the Eagles are 3-0 against Clearwater this season and shut down the Tornadoes in a three-game sweep for the district title. Clearwater, though, is capable of an upset.
Star watch: Clearwater — Leah Mitchell, Sr., Kahley Patrick, Jr., Nikki O'Rourke, So.; East Lake — Brianna McComeskey, So., Andria Tagarelli, Sr., Brittnay Estes, So.
Lakewood (15-9) at Braden River (22-6)
Prognosis: Behind sophomore phenom Berkley Whaley, Lakewood is playing its best volleyball. The Spartans rallied from a 2-1 games deficit to defeat Steinbrenner in the region quarters and upset second-seeded Bayshore in the district semifinals. The last time Lakewood and Braden River hooked up, the Pirates won a five-game thriller for the district title.
Star watch: Lakewood — Berkley Whaley, So., Lindsay Dodge, Sr.; Braden River — Lauren Powell, Sr., Regina Aluise, So.
CC Catholic (12-13) at Berkeley Prep (25-3)
Prognosis: Berkeley Prep has not been kind to the Marauders this season. Of course with 25 wins, the Buccaneers weren't exactly gracious toward any opponent. In two previous meetings, the Buccaneers have swept the Marauders with relative ease.
Star watch: CCC — Mary Michael Toups, Sr., Vanessa Annoni, Sr.; Berkeley Prep — Jordan Burgess, So., MacKenzie Dagostino, So., Lindsay Young, Sr.
Cambridge (17-11) at Canterbury (20-5)
Prognosis: The Crusaders are in the region semifinals for just the second time. The first? In 2004, Canterbury lost in three games to Cambridge. The Crusaders are 2-0 against Cambridge this season, including a three-game sweep in the district final. Odds that the Crusaders will make history tonight appear strong.
Star watch: Cambridge — Olivia Yeager, So.; Canterbury — Mansie Hough, So., Megan Burgess, So.