VALRCIO — Emotions were high Tuesday night at Bloomingdale.
The Bulls were hosting Plant in a rematch of last year’s district semifinals, which the Panthers won to end the Bulls’ season. The winner of Tuesday’s match would take first place in the district standings.
Despite Bloomingdale’s homecourt advantage, Plant’s defense and attack from the middle proved too much as the Panthers swept Bloomingdale in three sets, 25-22, 25-14 and 25-12.
Plant (9-4) sits atop Class 8A-District 7 at 4-0.
Junior Katherine Gabler led Plant with 12 kills, while senior Kaitlyn Sibson added 10. Sibson also finished with a team-high 16 digs, while junior Kyuana King had three blocks.
“I give a lot of credit to our block,” Plant coach Jessica Lamm said. “Our middles work so hard, they’re always in transition.”
Junior Karissa Rhoades led Bloomingdale (6-3, 4-1) with 11 kills.
“They played amazing defense, and they got my team out of their rhythm,” Bloomingdale coach Margeaux Sinibaldi said. “I have all the confidence in this team that we can do well if they buy into the process.”
The match actually was second place to a larger purpose. The rival schools were engaged in a joint effort to support a member of the Tampa Bay volleyball community, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Amber Walker, a former libero at Pasco-Hernando Community College, played high school volleyball with Sinibaldi and Plant assistant Danielle Durham. T-shirts were on sale in the lobby of the Bloomingdale gymnasium, with proceeds going toward Walker, who began treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma Monday, and supporting cancer research.
On Oct. 1, the Pasco-Hernando Community College women’s volleyball team will host a Dig Pink match for the Walker family.