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Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

Volleyball: District preview capsules

8A-7 at Plant

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Riverview (5) vs. Wharton (4), 5 p.m.; Alonso (6) vs. Newsome (3), 7 p.m. Wednesday: Alonso-Newsome winner vs. Bloomingdale (2), 5 p.m.; Riverview-Wharton winner vs. Plant (1), 7 p.m. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Plant defeated Bloomingdale in two close regular-season meetings to take the top seed. A third meeting in the district final could be expected, but Newsome and Wharton, teams that have had a few five-set wins and losses this year, are capable of pulling an upset.

7A-7 at East Bay

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Tampa Bay Tech (6) vs. Plant City (3), 5 p.m.; East Bay (5) vs. Brandon (4), 7 p.m. Wednesday: TBT-Plant City winner vs. Strawberry Crest (2), 5 p.m.; East Bay-Brandon winner vs. Durant (1), 7 p.m. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Durant enters the tournament with an undefeated record of 25-0 and a resume that includes winning three invitationals. The Cougars missed the playoffs last season and are chasing their first district title since 2007. Strawberry Crest has been a surprise this season, finishing second at the Wharton Harvest Tournament and going 2-2 at the Lakeland Invite.

7A-8 at Freedom

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Gaither (5) vs. Sickles (4), 7 p.m. Wednesday: Gaither-Sickles winner vs. Steinbrenner (1), 6 p.m.; Freedom (3) vs. Wiregrass Ranch (2), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Avery Bradshaw, Rachel Mathison, Lauren Heldt and setter Brooke Royals have led a balanced Steinbrenner squad. The Warriors advanced to the region final last year and could repeat that success. However, standing in Steinbrenner’s way will be Grace Olsen and Wiregrass Ranch, which has won six straight matches.

6A-9 at Leto

SCHEDULE: Today: Chamberlain (3) vs. Lennard (6), 2 p.m., Armwood (4) vs. Jefferson (5), 4 p.m., King (1) vs. Blake (7), 6 p.m., Hillsborough (2) vs. Leto (7), 8 p.m. Wednesday: Chamberlain-Lennard winner vs. Hillsborough-Leto winner, 6 p.m., Armwood-Jefferson winner vs. King-Blake winner 8 p.m.. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: King, led by Mercedyz Mitchell, Arielle Allen and Alex Pividal, has lost only three matches this season and started the season 8-0. Hillsborough (13-5) is having its best season in nearly a decade and is looking for its first playoff berth since 2007.

5A-9 at Spoto

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Spoto (3) vs. Middleton (2), 7 p.m. Thursday: Spoto-Middleton winner vs. Robinson (1), 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: With only three teams in the district, Robinson automatically advances to the region quarterfinals because the district champ and runner-up move on. Spoto and Middleton, however, are playing for the first postseason appearance in either team’s history. Middleton reopened in 2002, while Spoto opened in 2006.

4A-10 at Tampa Catholic

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Sarasota Booker (4) vs. Berkeley Prep (1), 5 p.m.; Academy of the Holy Names (3) vs. Tampa Catholic (2), 7 p.m. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Berkeley Prep entered the season ranked in the top 30 in the country, but losses to unexpected programs have dropped the Buccaneers from the national rankings. The Bucs haven’t lost a district championship in ions, but if Holy Names or Tampa Catholic ever had a window of opportunity to upset Berkeley, this could be the year.

3A-7 at Tampa Prep

SCHEDULE: Today: Brooks-DeBartolo (5) vs. Seffner Christian (4), 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Bishop McLaughlin (3) vs. Carrollwood Day (2), 5 p.m.; Brooks-Debartolo-Seffner Christian winner vs. Tampa Prep (1), 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 6:30 p.m.

OUTLOOK: A young Tampa Prep squad has done some remarkable things this season, the first upsetting Berkeley Prep and beating their rival for the first time in nine years. Carrollwood Day, however, is just as young and eager for the program’s first trip to the playoffs under first-year coach Eric Praetorius.

2A-7 at Academy at the Lakes

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Cambridge Christian (2) vs. Academy at the Lakes (3), 6 p.m. Thursday: Cambridge Christian-Academy at the Lakes winner vs. Tampa Bay HEAT (1), 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: In their first official season as elected members of the FHSAA members, the HEAT, comprised solely of home-schooled athletes, have secured the school’s first playoff berth in any sport. Cambridge Christian swept Academy at the Lakes in both regular-season meetings.

2A-8 at Keswick Christian

SCHEDULE: Today: Citrus Park Christian (5) vs. Hernando Christian (4), 5 p.m.; Lakeside Christian (6) vs. Bayshore Christian (3), 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Lakeside Christian-Bayshore Christian winner vs. Canterbury (2), 5 p.m.; Citrus Park Christian-Hernando Christian winner vs. Keswick Christian (1), 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Keswick Christian and Canterbury split during the regular season and Keswick earned the top seed in a tiebreaker. Both teams dominated the district during the regular season so a third meeting in the final shouldn’t be out of the question.