Class A, Cambridge (17-8) at Bayshore Christian (17-11): The Faith Warriors, who have won five straight, have defeated the Lancers twice — both times in four games — most recently in the district final Oct. 30. In that match, Bayshore sophomore outside hitter Gabby Fernandez had 17 kills, three aces and two blocks, while senior outside hitter Sami Stokes had 12 kills and two aces.
Class 2A, Indian Rocks Christian (21-7) at Tampa Prep (13-13): The Terps are aiming for their fourth win over the Golden Eagles. They have beaten IRC three times in convincing fashion, dispatching them in three games each time. Tampa Prep outside hitter Alena Ransom is averaging 16.3 kills in those three games. The Terps have won four straight against a tough schedule, but they have to be aware that this is a trap match and continue to improve the high-tempo, aggressive play that will get them to Lakeland.
Class 3A, Berkeley Prep (25-2) at Fort Myers Bishop Verot (22-0): The Bucs face a tough task by heading south two hours to face an undefeated Bishop Verot team that has created an impressive resume (beating Tampa Prep, Fort Myers, Naples and Fort Myers Evangelical Christian). With junior outside hitter Chelsea Parker out with a broken nose, Berkeley was balanced on offense in its region quarterfinal win over Cardinal Mooney. But the Vikings appear to want revenge after losing to Berkeley in three games this summer. "We've been thinking about Berkeley for a while, for a long time," Bishop Verot libero Katie Mosher told the (Fort Myers) News-Press. "We want to beat them so badly."
Class 5A, River Ridge (24-4) at Brandon (24-1): The Eagles' only loss this season came to Plant early last month, but coach Amy Watson expressed concern coming into the playoffs that her team hadn't been challenged enough for the postseason. It dropped its opening game to Ridgewood in its region quarterfinal match last week. River Ridge will present another challenge. Three of the Knights' four losses have come to legitimate state contenders, so they will serve as a benchmark for how legitimate Brandon is. An Eagles win could set up a rematch with Lake Howell, which ended Brandon's season last year, in the region final.
Class 5A, Palm Harbor U. (24-3) at Plant (25-3): As the Panthers continue their march to what would be their third straight 5A state title, this likely will be the Panthers' most challenging game since early in the Nike Challenge in Chicago in early October. Plant has won 10 straight and dropped just one game along the way. In the Panthers' region quarterfinal game against East Lake, junior outside hitter Maddie Martin had 15 kills and senior outside hitter Danielle Erb added eight. Palm Harbor U. has lost just once in its past 13 matches and all but one of those wins have come without dropping a game. A win could set up a rematch with 5A power Venice, which Plant beat in five games in last year's region final.
Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer