A spotlight on the Times' bay area players of the week.
Female Hot Shot
Karissa Rhoades, Bloomingdale
Skinny: Rhoades had 20 kills in Bloomingdale's district match against Plant last week, a match the Bulls trailed 2-0 before forcing a decisive fifth set. Bloomingdale lost the match, dropping the final set 15-12, but Rhoades was responsible for getting the Bulls back in it in the first place. The Panthers held Rhoades, who came into the match averaging 4.7 kills per game, to just five kills through the first two sets. In the third and fourth, though, Rhoades found her stride and put power on balls to help her team down the Panthers, who beat Bloomingdale 3-0 in the first meeting.
* * *
Male Hot Shot
Matthew Hirschberger, CCC
Skinny: The distance specialist was the undisputed star of the Tampa Bay Classic, winning the 200-yard free (1:42.91) and 500 free (4:32.24), as well as swimming on the first-place 200 free relay (1:29.76) and 400 free relay (3:13.44) teams. That should come as no surprise considering Hirschberger set the 13- to 14-year-old U.S. national age group record in the 1,000-yard free (9:02.37) this spring. Still, Hirschberger said he did not think he had that kind of performance in him at the TBC because it was a midseason high school meet and he was not tapered. "I was surprised at how well I did," Hirschberger said. The freshman will likely stick to both freestyle events once the postseason begins next week. "Hopefully I can keep improving and do well at states," he said.