Watch: Barron Collier volleyball beats Naples for district title Wochit
The FHSAA released the state volleyball tournament brackets Sunday afternoon and a total of nine Southwest Florida programs will continue their quest towards a state championship.
Two of Collier County's best will start their path as the top seeds in their region with District 5A-3 champion Barron Collier in Region 5A-4 and District 2A-12 champion First Baptist in Region 2A-3. The Cougars will welcome No. 8 seed Mourning out of North Miami on Wednesday, while the Lions will host No. 8 seed Sarasota Christian on Thursday.
Fort Myers, the District 6A-8 champion, is the No. 2 seed in Region 6A-2, while District 4A-8 champion LaBelle and District 2A-11 champion Evangelical Christian are both No. 3 seeds in 4A-2 and 2A-3, respectively.
The Green Wave will host No. 7 East Lake out of Tarpon Springs on Wednesday, the Cowgirls host No. 6 seed Tarpon Springs on Thursday and the Sentinels will host No. 6 seed Marco Island also taking place Thursday.
ECS head coach Theresa Kabel says the intrigue of the new ranking system is something she believes ultimately will increase the level of play from the start of the state tournament to the state final.
Sydney Dudek stuffed the stat sheet with 28 assists, 11 digs, six aces and five kills to lead ECS to the 2A-11 championship with a three-set sweep over Sarasota Christian. Wochit
"We kind of kept tabs on who we could end up seeing, you had to be very cognizant of who you scheduled," Kabel said. "Even in the middle of the season, one bad set could really end up changing your ranking, every match really mattered. I'll be interested to see how it pans out, we'll kind of be the guinea pig for all the other sports with how it goes."
District 3A-8 champion CSN, which is the area's highest-ranked team in the newest team rankings also released Sunday at No. 23 in the state, will begin a brutal road in the top classification in Florida as a No. 4 seed in Region 2. Eight of the top 15 teams in the state come from 3A, and that includes the Cougars' regional quarterfinal opponent Clearwater Central Catholic, who will enter the match at No. 9 in the state but have to travel to Naples on Thursday.
CSN head coach Alicia Macintyre prepared her team for the postseason by competing against Collier County's best teams as well as playing in two tournaments that included games against nationally-ranked Trinity Catholic, Calvary Christian, which is the top-ranked team in 3A, and Westminster Christian.
"This year it was so tough because the FHSAA didn't release this algorithm they were talking about, so half of the coaches in the area went with an easier schedule to get a better win-loss record and half went with a harder schedule," Macintyre said. "I said to my athletic director, I only wanted to play our top teams in the area. Those tournaments, playing the better teams really benefited the girls and helped push us up in the rankings I believe."
The Seahawks and Cougars put up a bunch of highlights but there could only be one winner at Suncoast Arena Friday night. Naples Daily News
With only one senior on the roster, captain Brielle Bellamy mixed with skilled sophomores and freshman, Macintyre knows that in order for her team to continue their season, they need to be sharp from the start Thursday.
"I'm excited to see how it plays out, we've really been preparing for regionals for three weeks," Macintyre said. "We know that a lot of these teams will be big and have some heavy hitters. We'll be undersized but I'm excited to see how we take what we've practiced into how we'll play."
Three teams scored at-large berths as Naples earned the No. 6 seed in Region 5A-4 after losing in the district championship to Barron Collier. The Eagles will travel to take on No. 3 seed Archbishop McCarthy on Wednesday.
Seacrest Country Day and Marco Island earned bids in Region 2A-3. The Stingrays will be the No. 5 seed and travel to take on No. 4 Tampa Bay HEAT and the Rays will be the No. 6 seed and play in the lone Lee-Collier regional quarterfinal matchup against Evangelical Christian on Thursday.
Of the remaining at-large hopefuls, Riverdale had the most heartbreaking outcome as they were nosed out of the 6A playoffs by .18 points by Charlotte for the No. 8 seed in Region 3. Canterbury was also the last team left out in 3A, as they were .77 points behind Northside Christian, who nabbed the No. 8 seed in Region 2.
Paris Thompson and Emily Stewart tallied 19 kills apiece as Fort Myers held off a Riverdale rally for a 3-1 victory in the Class 6A-District 8 final. The News-Press
Regional volleyball schedule
(7) East Lake at (2) Fort Myers, 7 p.m.
(8) Mourning at (1) Barron Collier, 7 p.m.
(6) Naples at (3) Archbishop McCarthy, 7 p.m.
(6) Tarpon Springs at (3) LaBelle, 7 p.m.
(5) Clearwater Central Catholic at (4) CSN, 7 p.m.
(8) Sarasota Christian at (1) First Baptist, 7 p.m.
(6) Marco Island at (3) ECS, 7 p.m.
(5) Seacrest Country Day at (4) Tampa Bay HEAT, 7 p.m.