Monday, September 24, 2018

HomeTeam 15: Volleyball power rankings, Week 4

Elite status

1. Plant (4-0)

Up next: Wednesday at Freedom

Last week's spot: No. 1

Why they stayed put: Four matches, four sweeps. Freedom is the first Class 8A, District 8 match of the season. Sickles is currently on top of the district, but the Panthers don't face them until Sept. 26. Things will ramp up later in the season, but for now the Panthers have not really been tested.

2. Palm Harbor University (5-0)

Up next: Today vs. Pinellas Park, Wednesday vs. Pinellas Park (PCAC match), Friday vs. Winter Park Trinity Prep (Berkeley Premier).

Last week's spot: No. 2

Why they stayed put: The Hurricanes swept Tarpon Springs last week in a match between two of the better teams in north Pinellas. Now comes a busy week. They are in the Berkeley Premier tournament and are in a pool with Ocala Vanguard, West Orange and Trinity Prep. It's a highly competitive tournament, so whatever happens PHU will gain valuable experience.

3. St. Petersburg (4-0)

Up next: Today at Seminole, Wednesday vs. Seminole (PCAC match), Thursday vs. Cambridge Christian and Seminole (Keswick Invitational), Friday vs. Tallahassee St. Paul II (Keswick tournament)

Last week's spot: No. 4

Why they moved up: The Green Devils didn't play last week, so they stayed undefeated. They certainly play this week. They might get sick of green and orange after playing Seminole three times this week. St. Petersburg has a good chance of keeping the momentum going as long as there is no rust from a week off.

4. Bishop McLaughlin (7-0)

Up next: Today vs. Academy at the Lakes, Thursday vs. Winter Haven All Saints Academy

Last week's spot: No. 6

Why they moved up: The Hurricanes won four straight matches to win their own tournament on Friday and Saturday. They defeated Seffner Christian, Mitchell, Land O'Lakes and Lake Gibson in the final. Setters Alexandra Postlethwaite and Terah Nejman are both transfers who have made a big impact.

5. Nature Coast (11-1)

Up next:  Today vs. Hernando, Thursday at Gulf

Last week's spot: No. 5

Why they stayed put: The Sharks won their first three matches at the Bishop McLaughlin tournament over the weekend but ran into Lake Gibson in the semifinals and lost 2-0. That loss was the first time they lost a game since the season opener against Springstead. They started the week on Monday with a win over Central.

Getting close

6. Wharton (5-1)

Up next: Wednesday at Wiregrass Ranch

Last week's spot: No. 8

Why they moved up: A 3-2 win over Robinson was a nice bounce back after getting swept by Plant. The Wildcats also defeated Freedom last week. Jamie Koopman had 14 kills against Robinson and Jeanette Henderson added 12. The only match this week is a Class 8A, District 8 match.

7. Robinson  (4-1)

Up next: Thursday vs. Jefferson, Friday-Saturday at Holy Names tournament

Last week's spot: No. 3

Why they moved down: The Knights dropped a close one to Wharton last week, 3-2. They did rebound with a sweep of Spoto. The tournament at Academy of the Holy Names will be yet another test.

8. Newsome (8-3)

Up next: Wednesday at East Bay, Thursday at Riverview

Last week: No. 9

Why they moved up: The Wolves are rolling. They have won six straight and have a good chance of extending that this week. Senior Linnea Helenius has 74 kills to lead the team. Senior Andrea Fabregas is close with 64 kills. Senior Marissa Northrop has 255 assists as the starting setter.

9. Clearwater Central Catholic (2-1)

Up next: Today at Cypress Creek, Wednesday vs. Sarasota Military Academy, Friday-Saturday at Venice tournament

Last week's spot: No. 7

Why they moved down: The first loss of the season came against district opponent Sarasota Cardinal Mooney last week. Now things get busy for the Marauders after a light schedule. They will know much more about themselves after the Venice tournament.

10. Shorecrest (4-1)

Up next: Today vs. Calvary Christian, Thursday-Friday at Keswick Christian tournament

Last week's spot: No. 10

Why they stayed put: The Chargers are good enough to make a big run at the Keswick tournament. The only match last week was a 3-0 win over Cambridge Christian in the first Class 4A, District 4 match of the season. Calvary Christian is also a district match and should be a good one.

Hanging in there

11. Sickles (4-0)

Up next: Wednesday at Leto

Last week's spot: Unranked

Why they moved up: The Gryphons haven't lost yet. They have a district win over Steinbrenner already and have lost only one game so far. Elise and Audra Curtin are big up front (6-foot-4), but sophomore Kylie Stroehlein may be the biggest offensive threat. Junior Lyann Lopez is also a very versatile player.

12. Sunlake (4-1)

Up next: Today at Land O'Lakes, Thursday vs. Springstead

Last week's spot: No. 11

Why they moved down: The first loss this season came against Mitchell last week. Two more district matches await this week. The Seahawks have a good blend of seniors and underclassmen and should get better as the season wears on.

13. Land O’Lakes (8-4)

Up next: Today vs. Sunlake, Thursday vs. Mitchell

Last week's spot: No. 12

Why they moved down: The Gators were a respectable 3-2 in the Bishop McLaughlin tournament, with the losses coming to the host Hurricanes and Nature Coast. This week starts off with the volleyball version of the Butter Bowl as well as a chance to play a good Mitchell team.

14. Tarpon Springs (5-3)

Up next: Today at Dunedin, Wednesday vs. Boca Ciega (PCAC match)

Last week's spot: No. 13

Why they moved down: The Spongers have played a difficult schedule to start. The three losses are to CCC, St. Petersburg and Palm Harbor University. They came up with an epic five set win over Clearwater last week that ended 22-20 in the fifth game. The schedule gets a bit easier from now on and the Spongers usually get better as the season goes on.

15. Mitchell (10-4)

Up next: Today vs. Springstead, Wednesday at Land O'Lakes

Last week's spot: Unranked

Why they moved up: The Mustangs made some noise at the Bishop McLaughlin tournament. They went 4-1 and the only loss was 2-1 to the Hurricanes, who won the tournament. Since a sluggish 4-3 start, Mitchell has won six of seven matches. Kennedy Deluca leads the offense with 56 kills.

On the bubble

Wiregrass Ranch (5-2), Steinbrenner (7-3), Calvary Christian (6-5), Tampa Catholic (6-4), Berkeley Prep (4-5), Carrollwood Day (4-5), Academy of the Holy Names (4-1), Northside Christian (4-2).

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