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Monday, Nov 12, 2018
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Four local volleyball teams left to vie for state final spots

Games Saturday at 2 p.m.

Class 8A: Tallahassee Leon (27-3) at Plant (26-1)

Up next: Winner plays Venice/Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas winner  on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Fort Myers for the state championship.

Know this: Plant is on a mission this season. The Panthers avenged a loss last season to Oviedo Hagerty by winning in straight sets in Tuesday's state semifinals. Now comes another home match against the Lions, who are ranked second in the state by MaxPreps; Plant is ranked fifth. If Plant makes it to the state final, it will surely earn it. Leon's three losses came against Class 7A power Venice, West Orange in the Berkeley Premier tournament and Benet Academy, which is ranked second in Illinois. The Panthers beat Venice earlier this season. Their only loss was to Oviedo in the final of the Swing for the Cure tournament. Makayla Washington has 311 kills and Shania Cromartie has 224 kills to lead the Lions. These teams met in the 2016 state semifinals at Plant, and the Panthers won 3-2 before losing to St. Thomas Aquinas in the final. Expect a close one again in a very loud Plant gym.

Class 6A: Tarpon Springs (24-6) at Merritt Island (28-2)

Up next: Winner plays Jacksonville Bishop Kenny/Alachua Santa Fe winner next Saturday at 4 p.m. in Fort Myers for the state championship.

Know this: Tarpon Springs is undefeated at home this season. So is Merritt Island. The Mustangs' only losses came in tournaments. It's been seven years since the Spongers have played in a state semifinal, and this one is going to be tough. Merritt Island has won seven straight matches since losing to Fort Pierce Central in the Swing for the Cure tournament. The Mustangs have two big-time hitters in Lexy Denaburg (387 kills) and Bobbie Jo Schwartz (276). Tarpon Springs counters with seniors Anya Reinhard, who had 18 kills and four aces against Sebring in the region final, and MacKenzie Dufresne, who tallied 17 kills and six blocks against Sebring. The Spongers need to block out the distraction of playing on the road and avoid falling behind early in order to hang with the Mustangs.

Class 4A: Jacksonville Providence (20-9) at Shorecrest (21-4)

Up next: Winner plays Benjamin/ Riviera Prep winner in Fort Myers next Saturday at 10 a.m. for the state championship.

Know this: Shorecrest has never been this far in the playoffs. They got here by knocking off rival Calvary Christian 3-1 after losing to the Warriors in two previous matches. They get to play a home match after spending the first two region matches on the road. The front line of Jacqueline St. Cin, Chaise Campbell and Annabel Happ have given teams fits. And senior setter Taylor Waldmann has set them up all season. The Stallions haven't dropped a set since the postseason began. Senior Kamara Kelly has had a monster season with 461 kills. Senior Anela Davis has 244 kills.

Class 3A: Jacksonville Christ’s Church Academy (22-6) at Bishop McLaughlin (29-0)

Up next: Winner plays Naples First Baptist Academy/Doral Divine Savior Academy winner in Fort Myers next Saturday at 1 p.m. for the state championship.

Know this: This is all new territory for the Hurricanes, who won their first district championship this season. They have not been challenged in the playoffs and they are going to be awfully hard to beat at home. Senior Jessica Angelo has obviously been a big addition since transferring from Palm Harbor University. She has 224 kills and has gotten better as the season went on. But she is not the only weapon on the team. Sophomore Audrey Koenig has 299 kills to lead the team. Her sister, junior Gabriella Koenig, has added 114 kills. Sophomore Adrianna Lopez has paced the defense with 414 digs. Junior Terah Nejman has 356 assists. Christ's Church Academy is led by junior Julia Mangum (335 kills) and senior Heather Brown (308 kills).

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