1. Archive


All matches start at 7 p.m. Admission is $6.

Mitchell (17-9) at No. 8 Lakeland (22-2)

HOW THEY GOT THERE: Mitchell lost in the 5A-5 title game to River Ridge. Lakeland edged Lake Gibson in five games in the 5A-6 championship.

UP NEXT: If the Mustangs win, they would host the next two rounds Saturday, but their next match likely would be against Plant, ranked second in Class 5A.

THE SKINNY: Lakeland is a state-ranked team, but Mitchell might be more battle-tested, picking up most of its losses in major tournaments. The Mustangs have a dominating hitter in Katelen Dixon, capable of carrying the team and taking over a match by herself. The Dreadnaughts got 27 kills and six aces from Dayton Kilburn in their district final, which they won 15-13 in the final game.

Lake Gibson (20-8) at River Ridge (15-6)

HOW THEY GOT THERE: River Ridge beat Mitchell in four games for its seventh district title in nine years. Lake Gibson lost a close match to No. 8 Lakeland in its championship.

UP NEXT: If the Knights win, they would face the Gaither-Brandon winner, with that match played at the winner of tonight's Mitchell-Lakeland match. As was the case last year, River Ridge likely would have a tough opponent (Plant) in the region final if it advances.

THE SKINNY: River Ridge has overcome a lack of depth but faces a tough opponent who almost won its district against a ranked team. Lake Gibson runs a 6-2 (two-setter) offense that features senior Natalie Krause, one of the top setters and hitters in her county and the great-niece of Vikings Hall of Famer Paul Krause.

Wesley Chapel (19-9) at No. 7 Clermont East Ridge (26-2)

HOW THEY GOT THERE: Wesley Chapel lost to Hudson in its district final, missing a chance at its fourth straight title; East Ridge beat Central for the third time this season, including a 25-3 win in the fourth and final game, for its second district crown in a row.

UP NEXT: The Wildcats would play the Armwood-Winter Haven winner, with the match held Saturday at the winner of tonight's Hudson-Central match.

THE SKINNY: Wesley Chapel has just one win in its three playoff appearances, but the past two losses came against tough Fort Myers Bishop Verot teams. East Ridge played host to Mitchell last year and lost to the Mustangs, but the Knights look much-improved since then.

Central (20-7) at Hudson (22-4)

HOW THEY GOT THERE: Central lost to East Ridge in four games in its district final, while Hudson avenged its only district loss by beating Wesley Chapel in the 4A-10 championship.

UP NEXT: Hudson would host the region semifinals and final Saturday with a win, and the Cobras' first match would be against the winner of Auburndale-Tampa Bay Tech.

THE SKINNY: With a senior-laden roster and a history of playoff success, Hudson might have the best shot of any county team at reaching the state final four. Hudson made the playoffs seven years in a row from 1995-2001, and just as impressive, they won in the first round every time. The Cobras have reached the final four twice, losing in the championship game in 2000.

Pasco (10-13) at Cross City Dixie County (17-5)

HOW THEY GOT THERE: For the third year in a row, Pasco earned district runner-up honors, this time falling to Hernando in the 3A-6 championship. Dixie County beat Williston to earn its fourth straight postseason appearance.

UP NEXT: The Pirates would likely face No. 4 Orlando Lake Highland Prep, which faces a 10-15 Cocoa Beach team tonight, and that match would be played Saturday at the winner of Hernando-Williston.

THE SKINNY: It's a 140-mile trip to Cross City, which is west of Gainesville. The good news is the Pirates don't have to face Tampa Catholic, as they did in each of the past two seasons, getting swept both times. Last year's meeting was a 15-2, 15-2 dispatching, so winning a game in the first round will be a step in the right direction for Pasco.