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Volleyball: Panthers sweep to tourney crown
After a tough semifinal, Plant dispatches Berkeley Prep in three games.
By MIKE CAMUNAS
Published October 7, 2007
TAMPA - Plant coach Leanne Taylor counts her stars.
Literally, when she counts players such as senior Kellie Catanach, junior Danielle Erb and sophomore Maddie Martin. And metaphorically when she's grateful to have such players.
This trio helped the Panthers (18-1) capture the 23rd annual Tampa Bay Invitational hosted by Tampa Prep at the University of Tampa. Plant defeated Berkeley Prep (10-7) in the Saturday final 25-22, 25-23, 25-19.
"They're a real good combination," Taylor said. "Kellie really knows how to put the ball where Maddie can hit it well. Obviously, I'm real blessed to have those two up on the line, and Danielle complements them, too."
Martin led the Panthers with 36 kills (11 in the final), while Erb added 26 total kills and Catanach had 77 total assists.
"Maddie is one of those taller hitters (6-foot-1), that you can put (the ball) in the spot and she'll hit it hard," said Catanach, a Duke commit who also is 6-1. "We're really close off the court because we've been playing together for three years. It's kind of like a big sister, little sister relationship we have."
Plant needed five games to win its nearly two-hour semifinal 24-26, 25-20, 25-21, 20-25, 15-10 over Bishop Verot. The Bucs defeated Fort Myers 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 to help their seasoned coach, Randy Dagostino, to his 699th career win. But the Panthers made the 25-year coach wait for his milestone.
"I'm really not thinking about (getting the 700th win)," Dagostino said before the final. "It happens when it happens."
Berkeley Prep, which was seeded ninth, was led by sophomores Lindsay Young and Becca Howard, who had 14 kills and five blocks against Plant and 40 total assists, respectively.
Taylor said she has used the invitational to gauge how her team might handle life beyond the regular season.
"It's good to win the invitational, because it's a good measurement for (the postseason)," Taylor said. "...Sure, we can lose, but it's staying confident that keeps us in the game."