FORT MYERS - Academy of Holy Names (13-15) stunned the state's No. 3 team in Class 3A, defeating Fort Myers Bishop Verot 15-25, 20-25, 27-25, 25-23, 15-9 in a regional quarterfinal match Tuesday night on the Vikings' home floor.
To pull off the upset, the Jags rallied from two games down, winning Games 3 and 4 by two points each.
Verot (22-5) was favored to win the match, and appeared well on its way after the first two games. But no one will judge the Jaguars on their under-.500 record anymore, not after they rallied to win the next three games to set up a regional semifinal match Tuesday against No. 2 Berkeley Prep.
'People see the record but they don't always look at our schedule,' Jags coach Doug Chinchar said. 'Many of our nondistrict opponents were state-ranked.'
The tide seemed to turn in Game 4, with Verot ahead 6-0. Chinchar called a timeout to settle his team. 'I told them, 'Once we tie this game up, we're going to win,'' he said.
Behind senior Maureen Colligan - who had 23 kills for the match - the Jaguars tied the game at 9, and then traded the lead several times until Verot tied it at 23. Then, a Verot passing error gave Holy Names game point, and Kelley Winship's kill won the game and tied the match.
PLANT PUSHES ON: It was far from perfect, but then when it comes to Plant's volleyball team, it often doesn't have to be. Tuesday's example was a 25-19, 25-19, 25-15 first-round regional victory against visiting East Lake (18-7).
'We did some things well tonight, but there are still some things we can work on,' Plant coach Leanna Taylor said. 'My concern is to keep the focus through the playoffs.'
Which means going into Tuesday's regional semis against Clearwater, where the Panthers (26-1) are expected to step into a packed, raucous house - and still prevail.
Taylor said she hopes for consistent play from senior setter Kellie Catanach (29 assists Tuesday) and top hitter, sophomore Maddie Martin, who led all players with 14 kills.
'We felt like we were in control throughout this match, but we need to keep up that intensity,' Taylor said. 'Our goal is to not drop a game in any match from here on out.'
BRANDON BEATS LAND O' LAKES: Host Brandon outlasted Land O' Lakes 20-25, 25-18, 25-21, 10-25, 15-11 in a regional quarterfinal.
'It's a huge win for us because Brandon hasn't been this far since 1986,' Eagles coach Amy Watson said. 'We were a little nervous at first, they didn't know what to expect, but it's still the same as it's always been, they won't go down without a fight.'
After dropping the first game, the Eagles (21-3) battled back and jumped out to 2-1 advantage heading into the fourth game. But the Gators (17-12), behind a strong offensive surge led by senior Kayli Keough, put the Eagles away and forced a fifth game.
'I told them, you're either going out of here winners, or you're going out of here criers - you decide what it's going to be,' Watson said. 'And a light bulb goes on, and you can see the difference.'
The Eagles responded and came out firing with four straight service points. Land O' Lakes would quickly answer and take a 8-6 advantage, but the home team came back with a couple of 4-0 runs, putting an end to the Gators' season.
The Eagles were led by sophomore outside hitter Alexandra Woodlee, who had 18 kills, and senior setter Lindsey Watson, who had 16 aces.
CLEARWATER TOPS HILLSBOROUGH: Clearwater made quick work of visiting Hillsborough during the regional first-round match, and in the process did its part to set up a highly anticipated rematch with Plant.
Channing Salava had eight kills and 20 assists, J.B. Davis finished with a team-high nine kills and Katie Betourne added three digs as the Tornadoes (25-4) stopped Hillsborough 25-11, 25-18, 25-10 to advance to Tuesday's regional semifinal.
'We were working on some things tonight, so it did get sloppy at times,' Clearwater coach Tracy Sedely said. 'Most of all, the girls want to show that they can play with Plant. Tuesday is what matters to us.'
Clearwater has lost in the past two regional championship matches, including last season's four-set loss to Plant. The Tornadoes also lost in straight sets to the Panthers earlier this season in a match Sedely said 'wasn't very close.'
Natalia Ortiz led Hillsborough (8-8) with six digs, while Misha Lang finished with three blocks.
RIVER RIDGE TOPS ARMWOOD: River Ridge conquered a slow start and pesky errors to advance to next week's Region 3 semifinals following its 25-23, 25-13, 25-18 victory against visiting Armwood.
The Royal Knights will host Brandon on Tuesday.
Armwood (13-4) jumped out to a 9-2 advantage on the strength of solid hitting from its front row and a seemingly slow River Ridge (23-5) defense. The tide turned with the Hawks ahead 9-6 when Armwood attempted to return a serve, but the Hawks were called for a lift violation. On that play, Hawks setter Stephanie Powers injured her right ankle and momentarily left the contest.
River Ridge began to chip at the lead, helped by sound serving and defense, including a Brittney Frey block to end the Game 1.
Again, the solid serving of Lauren Sansonetti, Brooke Castelamare and Emily Lehman snatched away Game 2. Lehman served out the game, collecting the final five points.
After knotting Game 3 at 17 on a Frey ace, River Ridge outscored Armwood 8-1 to win the match.
LAKEWOOD OUSTED: Host Lakewood got off to a good start against Bradenton Manatee by winning the first game, but the Hurricanes (19-6) won three of the next four games to advance to the region semifinals with a 19-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-17, 15-12 win.
The main culprit for the Spartans was Manatee's Courtney McDonald. The junior middle hitter was all over the floor, spiking, blocking, serving and an occasional set. She proved to be too much for Lakewood (20-8).
'I just wanted to win really bad,' said McDonald, who has offers from Stanford and Miami. 'I didn't want our season to end. So I played really hard.'
She needed to in order to avoid a loss. After Lakewood took the third game, McDonald was virtually a one-woman show. 'Oh, she's a good player,' Lakewood coach Sean O'Flannery said. 'Whenever they had the opportunity they set her up.'
BERKELEY PREP ADVANCES: Berkeley Prep's young but talented volleyball team realizes the Buccaneers have fallen just short of a state title the last two years. This year's team, however, is looking to change that and it started with a convincing 25-14, 25-19, 25-16 victory against visiting Sarasota Cardinal Mooney (16-12) in the Region 4 quarterfinals.
Sophomores Chelsea Parker and Lindsay Young led the Bucs (21-7) with nine kills apiece and sophomore Becca Howard had 21 assists. Junior captain Christina Theofilos added 25 digs.
'Their age is what's impressive to me, they are all pretty young,' Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said. 'We are real pleased with their development and that they are going to be back for several years.'
The Bucs established the tempo early in the match with the front row play of Young and Parker. Cardinal Mooney hung around in the third game tying the game at 13, but an ace from Amber Mirabello and a kill from Young sparked the Bucs on a 12-3 run to close out the match.
TAMPA PREP CRUISES: Tampa Prep sophomore Caroline Dillabough used 24 assists to keep her team's offense in balance while a trio of servers kept Lakeland Christian out of step as the visiting Terrapins advanced 25-11, 25-9, 25-13 in a regional quarterfinal.
Junior Anna Dalence, who led Tampa Prep (14-13) with 10 digs, effectively utilized a jump serve for 11 consecutive points, extending an 8-6 lead to 19-6. Megan Aschenbrenner got things going in Game 2, serving the Terrapins to a 13-1 advantage, while the third game saw senior Lauren Levine turn a 3-1 deficit into a 12-3 lead against the Vikings (18-5).
'Just like a pitching rotation in baseball, that's what we are trying to do,' Tampa Prep coach Mike Flynn said. 'If you serve the same type of ball all the time, any passer is going to get in rhythm. We want to show them some different looks to keep them off rhythm as much as possible.'
Alena Ransom led the Terrapins with 12 kills and Dana Malinowski had nine.
BAYSHORE CHRISTIAN WINS: Going into the region quarterfinal against Lakeside Christian, Bayshore Christian had already earned the No. 2 ranking in the 1A state poll and captured its 11th straight district title.
The host Faith Warriors (24-5) showed why they've been so successful, handling the Lions (14-8) 25-14, 25-12, 25-11 to advance to the region semifinals.
The players, however, only had minutes to enjoy the victory. Bayshore Christian coach Melanie Humenansky wasn't pleased with the team's lackadaisical performance and cleared the court so they could run sprints. 'It's to keep them motivated,' she said.
'We get into slumps after we see how our opponents play,' said senior hitter Jannica Mollett, who currently leads Hillsborough County in total kills. 'We expect to go to state, we expect to win and that's not what a championship team does. We can't play down.'
Mollett finished with 16 kills while senior setter Ashlea Ballangee had 30 assists.
CAMBRIDGE ROLLS: Visiting Cambridge Christian (18-5) made quick work of host Canterbury 25-20, 25-10, 25-17 in the regional quarterfinals.
Cambridge coach Janelle Barnes said that while her team had beaten the Crusaders (15-13) twice previously this season, she was surprised it took only three games this time. 'In the last game they took us to five,' she said, 'so it was all about my girls and if they decided to come out to play tonight, which they did.'
Barnes cited leadership by team seniors Ashley Parsley, Holly Matthews and team captain Caroline Conner.
Meanwhile, Crusaders coach Dave Smith pointed out his team fielded no seniors, with outside hitter Abby Jay, a senior and team captain, sidelined by illness.
'We made an awful lot of mistakes ... unforced errors ... tonight,' he said, 'and when you get this far, the team that makes the least mistakes is going to be the team that continues.'