Class 8A volleyball: Plant vs. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas

Plant High's Molly Fleming (13) sets the ball for Birdie Frierson (6) during a regular-season match. (TAILYR IRVINE  | Times)
Plant High's Molly Fleming (13) sets the ball for Birdie Frierson (6) during a regular-season match. (TAILYR IRVINE | Times)
Published

A look at Thursday's Class 8A state final between a pair of powerhouses:

Plant (27-1) vs. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (26-5)

When/where: 7 p.m. Thursday; Suncoast Credit Union Arena, Fort Myers

Tickets: $9 per day in advance (fhsaa.org); or $12 at the gate.

How they got here: Plant d. Bartow 3-0, d. Wharton 3-1, d. Hagerty 3-0, d. Leon 3-2; St. Thomas Aquinas d. West Boca Raton 3-0, d. Royal Palm Beach 3-0, d. Mater Academy 3-0, d. Venice 3-1.

Players to watch: Plant — Sr. OH Cam Vogler (253 kills, 33 aces, 156 digs); Jr. OH Cody Murray (158 kills, 39 blocks); Jr. OH Birdie Frierson (158 kills, 114 digs); Jr. DS Hailie Gould (297 digs); Sr. S Molly Fleming (689 assists). St. Thomas Aquinas — Sr. MB Sophia Davis (212 kills, 92 blocks); Fr. MB Olivia Mogridge (203 kills, 41 aces, 52 blocks); Sr. OH Paige Barash (164 kills, 164 digs); Sr. S Kelsey O'Loughlin (393 assists).

Know this: The Panthers have pretty much cruised through the regular season, with the only blip being to Oviedo in the final of the Swing for the Cure tournament. But they had to fight as hard as they could to get out of the state semifinal Saturday against Tallahassee Leon. Plant won in five sets, taking the fifth 16-14. Now comes St. Thomas Aquinas, which has won five state titles and was a semifinalist last season. One common opponent is Venice, which both teams beat this season.

They said it: "I still have butterflies (from the state semifinal). That's the first time we have gone to five sets since I've been here, but the girls just have something special. I think it was a bit self inflicted because there were some nerves, but we settled down and got it done. Now comes a chance against a very good St. Thomas Aquinas. Hopefully, we can learn from what we've just been through." — Plant second year coach Vanja Todorovic

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