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Plant out, Durant moves on

Plant's season of pleasant surprises ended Wednesday night with a frustrated fizzle.

The Panthers lost 15-7, 15-13 to Lakeland in a Class 5A, District 11 semifinal that coach Jennifer Burchill described as "just bad."

"We played like we were nervous," Burchill said. "It was definitely the wrong time to have a bad match. But that's what happened. What can you do?"

Now Plant can only watch the rest of the playoffs, which continue with tonight's final: Durant vs. Lakeland at 7.

Durant, 20-3 and ranked No. 3 in the state, advanced with a tough 15-11, 15-10 victory against George Jenkins.

"We expected a good match from (Jenkins), so no, tonight really wasn't a surprise," Durant coach Teri Ohme said. "There really wasn't a turning point, it was just a matter of us consistently winning more points."

In the first game, Jenkins tied it at nine before fading; and in the second game Jenkins jumped to a 4-0 lead and trailed only 8-7 before things slipped away.

"At least Durant knew they were on the court with us," Jenkins coach Dianne Werrick said. "I was pleased we at least played hard."

The same could almost be said of the night's opening match, when Plant fought to a 7-7 tie before losing the next eight points.

That trend continued in the next game as the Panthers fell behind 11-4 before scrapping back to a 13-13 tie.

"But it was too late," Burchill said. "It was just too late."

As was often the case, Lakeland's 6-foot-1 Jessica Cowley ended Plant's uprising with a couple of swift spikes.

It was completely different scenario than earlier this season when Plant defeated Lakeland in three games. In that match the Dreadnaughts were without Cowley, who was suffering with a knee strain. With Cowley, Lakeland (17-4) is undefeated.

Ultimately, Plant, sometimes with two sophomores and two freshman on the court at the same time, finished 16-4.