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  1. Sports

Volleyball: Plant improves to 7-0 ahead of tough Berkeley Premier Tournament

TAMPA — Plant's volleyball team continues to look strong, deep and tough.

The Panthers have started the season 7-0, dropping only one set in those matches.

Thursday night, the Panthers again flexed their muscle, dominating Class 8A, District 8 foe Wiregrass Ranch 25-9, 25-23, 25-17.

But today, Plant will get a better idea of just how good it really is when it steps into pool play at one of the state's toughest tournaments, the 24th Berkeley Premier Tournament at Berkeley Prep High. Pool play continues early Saturday with championship matches following in the afternoon.

This year the Berkeley Premier features 16 outstanding teams, eight of which are ranked in the Florida's overall top-25 by Maxpreps.com.

Among Tampa Bay area teams competing this weekend, Plant is ranked the highest at No. 4, followed by Berkeley Prep (6-0) at No. 7, Academy of the Holy Names (9-1) at No. 18 and Carrollwood Day School (6-1) at No. 20. The state's No. 1 and No. 2 overall ranked teams, Fort Myers Bishop Verot (6-0) and Tallahasse Leon (6-0) are also competing.

"(The Berkeley Premier Tournament) is a great test to see how we'll stack up against the state's best," Plant coach Margeaux Sinibaldi said. "We need these types of challenges."

Plant, like many teams, is working through some injury issues, but the Panthers, unlike many teams, has a tremendous amount of talented depth.

The ultimate goal for the Panthers is a state title, especially after finishing last year as the Class 7A state runner-up. Plant has won 10 total state titles, ranking fourth most in Florida High School Athletic Association history. The last Plant title, however, came in 2010, the final year of five consecutive state titles.

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