Clearwater Central Catholic proved it deserves the No. 1 ranking after defeating Bishop McLaughlin again last week. Osceola is close to the school’s first ever undefeated season after it won the Pinellas County Athletic Conference tournament. And Steinbrenner moves into the top 5 after a five-set win over Wharton.
1. Clearwater Central Catholic (15-3)
This week: Tuesday at Northside Christian, Thursday vs. Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Friday-Saturday at Bishop Moore tournament
Why they stayed put: The Marauders hosted Bishop McLaughlin last week and beat the Hurricanes in four sets. A very well-rounded team that has now won eight straight matches. Linsey Harrison, Kasey Singer and Kylie White have been formidable up front. Victoria Hensley has 570 assists and 31 aces. The regular season ends with a bang. CCC will play at least five matches prior to next week’s district tournament.
2. Osceola (19-0)
This week: Tuesday at Pinellas Park, Thursday at Largo
Why they moved up: The Warriors claimed the PCAC championship with wins over Palm Harbor University and St. Petersburg. They have a very real chance of finishing the regular season undefeated, something the school has never done. The week started with a sweep of Shorecrest. Osceola is easily the best team in its district and should be able to go far in the postseason.
3. Calvary Christian (20-2)
This week: Tuesday at Tarpon Springs, Thursday vs. Countryside
Why they stayed put: Last week the Warriors swept Northside Christian. Two matches against public schools finish off the regular season. Calvary Christian is yet another talented Class 3A team that will have a tough road in the postseason. Cathryn Long is third in the state with 338 kills. Her sister, Jennafer, is second in the state in assists with 717.
4. Bishop McLaughlin (21-3)
This week: Thursday at Sarasota Riverview
Why they moved down: The Hurricanes dropped their second match of the season to CCC last week. The only other loss to was Alachua Santa Fe. The Hurricanes were hoping to play Plant this week, but that match fell through, so they will get 24 regular-season matches instead of the maximum 25 allowed. Regardless, they should be ready for the postseason. They made the state final last year, but with CCC also in Class 3A, it won’t be easy to repeat.
5. Steinbrenner (20-4)
This week: Tuesday at Wiregrass Ranch
Why they moved up: The Warriors have been impressive lately. They defeated Wharton in five sets last week. Since a loss to Plant, they have won six straight, which includes a win over Sickles on Monday. Nina Moorer has 208 kills to lead the team. But Zoe Chin, Lilou Stegeman and Maggie Miller all have more than 100 kills. Mandy Knipp has 319 assists.
6. St. Petersburg (22-3)
This week: No matches scheduled
Why they moved down: The Green Devils have reached their 25 regular-season match limit, so they will wait until next week to play again. They stretched Osceola to a third set in the PCAC final and only lost by two points. They are by far the best team in Class 6A, District 6, so expect them to go far in the playoffs. Kate Youmans ended the regular season with 195 kills. Nicole Robison had 50 aces and 587 assists, Jenna Davis had 96 blocks and Livvi Harting had 272 digs.
7. Plant (17-7)
This week: Thursday vs. Bloomingdale
Why they moved up: The Panthers went to the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona and finished 4-3 against some very stiff competition. They had quality wins over teams like Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas and Scottsdale Christian Academy of Arizona. On Monday, they kept on rolling with a 3-1 win over Wharton. That avenged a loss in the second match of the season. The Panthers are getting better as the postseason approaches and are a dangerous team right now.
8. Wharton (18-3)
This week: Thursday at Freedom
Why they moved down: The Wildcats need to regroup after two straight losses. Granted, they were against district foes Steinbrenner and Plant, but they need some momentum prior to the district tournament. Wharton has played a difficult schedule that should make it ready for the postseason. Seniors Jeanette Henderson (166 kills), Jamie Koopman (57 blocks) and Lexi Morse (59 blocks) have provided leadership all season.
9. Sunlake (15-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Pasco, Thursday vs. Wesley Chapel
Why they moved up: The Seahawks have won two straight since the Wharton Harvest tournament. That included a sweep of Wiregrass Ranch, a likely district tournament opponent. Caroline Schoonover (180 kills) and Brette Heyman (172 kills) have led the offense all season. Cydnee Reimann has 59 blocks to lead the defense.
10. Carrollwood Day (16-7)
This week: Saturday vs. Sarasota Out-of-Door and Lake Worth Christian
Why they moved down: The week started with a sweep of Boca Ciega. It ends with a tri-match in Sarasota. The Patriots are part of a difficult district that includes Bishop McLaughlin, Tampa Prep and Berkeley Prep. Haley Brown has 218 kills to lead the offense. Jessie Golden has 47 aces. Jalyn Brown has 60 blocks. Kacy Krig has 360 assists.
11. Wiregrass Ranch (13-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Steinbrenner
Why they moved down: Just one match this week but it is a tough one. The Bulls had won four straight prior to a loss to Sunlake. They are in a tough district that includes East Lake and the Seahawks, so they need to start playing better.
12. East Lake (16-6)
This week: Wednesday at Palm Harbor University, Thursday at River Ridge, Friday vs. Lakeland
Why they moved down: The Eagles are currently going through a rough patch, losing five of six matches. One of those losses was to PHU in the PCAC third-place match. Olivia Thompson, Olivia Aniol and Valentina Echeverri all have more than 100 kills to pace the offense. East Lake is still a top contender in Class 6A, District 5.
13. Northside Christian (15-7)
This week: Tuesday vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, Thursday vs. Boca Ciega
Why they stayed put: The lone loss last week was to Calvary Christian, one of the top teams in the area. It doesn’t get any easier against CCC. Unfortunately, both of those schools are in the Mustangs’ district, so they will likely need to play their best volleyball of the season next week to get to regionals. Emilia Harding is up to 190 kills.
14. Tampa Prep (16-7)
This week: Tuesday vs. St. Petersburg Catholic, Saturday vs. Newsome
Why they moved in: The Terrapins have won seven of eight matches, and the lone loss was to Bishop McLaughlin. They are in an extremely tough district that includes Berkeley Prep, Bishop McLaughlin and Carrollwood Day. But it looks as if they will be competitive with whomever they play. Gracie Kiser has 254 kills to lead the team. Eighth-grader Olivia Hart has 55 aces. Maggie Babbitt has 292 digs. Pilar Taylor has 566 assists.
15. Keswick Christian (19-3)
This week: Tuesday at Indian Rocks Christian
Why they stayed put: The week started with a 3-1 win over Dixie Hollins. The Crusaders should be a challenger for the district tournament title next week, along with Academy at the Lakes and Hernando Christian. Sydney Jackwin is over 300 kills and is clearly the one to watch on offense. Rylee Hannon (441 assists) has been good at setting her up all season.
On the bubble
Indian Rocks Christian (13-6), Sickles (10-10), Wesley Chapel (13-8), Robinson (9-4), Berkeley Prep (11-8), Tampa Catholic (13-9), Largo (12-8)