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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Palm Harbor U. proves pesky, but ultimately no match for Plant.
By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published October 27, 2005
TAMPA - The momentum was gone.
Spikes sailed wide. Serves found the net. And the other squad was gaining confidence.
Would this be the night Plant's state championship hopes went down the tubes?
Uh, not quite.
Despite having an un-Plant like stretch in the second and third games, the No. 1-ranked Panthers defeated a scrappy Palm Harbor University team 25-12, 25-21, 25-20 on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of reaching a fifth straight final four.
"Palm Harbor came in and played well, especially in that last game," Plant coach Leanna Taylor said. "I'm pleased with the fact we didn't worry about the score and kept focusing on the next point."
It never looked as if Plant (26-1) wouldn't win, but after dominating the first game and a half, the Panthers found themselves in a fight down the stretch. After falling behind 17-7 in the second, Palm Harbor (20-8) rallied.
It started with a couple of Plant miscues, but then the Hurricanes found their groove, thanks largely to the play of outside hitters Heather Smith and Christine Tan.
Suddenly it was 21-16. And then 22-20.
Plant regrouped to win the game after a missed Palm Harbor spike and a kill by Panthers middle blocker Kaley Read, but quickly fell behind 5-0 in the third.
"They're a great team, but we showed we could do it in the third game," Palm Harbor coach Tara Burton said. "We just made a few mistakes at crucial moments."
Midway through the final game, Plant regained control and closed the gap.
The Panthers took the lead for good at 19-18 with a kill from outside hitter Allison Sharp. On match point, outside hitter Christine Williamson smashed her team-high 12th kill on a set from Kellie Catanach.
"They were a good team and we had to play our best to pull it out," Read said. "In the end, we came together."