TAMPA - Plant volleyball coach Leanna Taylor said her players came into the Tampa Bay Invitational tournament with a theme of just focusing on themselves. By the time the tournament was over, the Panthers served notice that other teams should be aware of them as well.
Plant, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, breezed through the second day of the tournament, sweeping Venice in three games in the final to claim the tournament championship. The Panthers, who defeated Venice 25-17, 25-20, 25-18, won all five tournament matches by sweeps.
"We just played each match one point at a time," said Taylor. "I think that's how we did it. By just focusing on what we had to do."
Plant (20-1) defeated Gainesville P.K. Yonge in the semifinals before topping Venice, which defeated the Panthers in the state semifinals a season ago.
The Panthers were led by hitters Allison Sharp, Danielle Erb and Christine Williamson and setter Kellie Catanach in the final. Catanach had 29 assists while Erb had nine kills and Sharp had 10. Williamson had 10 kills and seven solo blocks.
"We feel like we're right on track," Taylor said. "We felt like we were supposed to come in here and win. This tournament is a good gauge for us because we have so many things to work on still but we're on track."
Berkeley Prep finished fourth in the tournament, Durant was 15th and host Tampa Prep 16th. Sharp and Catanach were named to the all-tournament team, along with Berkeley Prep's Janet Okogbaa and Kate Parker.