Plant earns top county finish

The Panthers finish in fifth place at the 16-team event.

By JUSTIN DARGAHI, Times Correspondent
Published September 30, 2007

TAMPA - The 15th annual Berkeley Premier volleyball tournament didn't go exactly as planned for the five area schools competing.

Durant, Plant, Tampa Prep, Academy of the Holy Names and Berkeley Prep struggled to a combined 10-15 record in the two-day event. No Hillsborough team finished in the top four of the 16-team tournament.

"The competition is just so much different than what we all see on a weekly basis," longtime Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said.

Plant, ranked No.20 nationally, fared the best of the group, even though the Panthers were handed their first loss of the season in a tough match with Evangelical Christian in pool play.

The defending 5A state champs rebounded to take fifth place after beating Woodward 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19 in the Silver Bracket finals. The Panthers finished the tournament 4-1, including a convincing 25-9, 25-51, 25-12 sweep over two-time defending state 3A champions Lake Highland Prep from Orlando.

Plant was also the only local team to have a player named to the all-tournament team when Kellie Catanach was honored.

Evangelical Christian's Sherri Davis took home the MVP award.

Host Berkeley Prep struggled in pool play, losing all three of its games, but responded with back-to-back victories to win the challenge bracket and finish in 13th place with a 25-23, 25-27, 25-16, 25-20 win over First Academy.

"You can't take any points off or the other team will go on long runs," Dagostino said. "This is the toughest competition we face, no matter how far we go in the state playoffs. Every team pushes each team harder."

Tampa Prep went a respectable 2-3 in the tournament and took home 11th place with a 25-17, 25-23, 25-14 sweep against Durant, who came in ranked No.9 in Class 6A.

The Cougars finished 1-4, as did AHN.

The Jaguars and Buccaneers took part in what was maybe the best match of the entire tournament, as Berkeley Prep stormed back to beat AHN 12-25, 16-25, 25-15, 26-24, 15-10.

Kentucky's Mercy Academy won its third straight tournament title after defeating Georgia's Northview in the finals Saturday.

Buchholz of Gainesville finished third, and Evangelical Christian was fourth.