Two teams have emerged as tops in northern Hillsborough County, Steinbrenner and Wharton. Those teams clashed Monday night in a playoff-type atmosphere at Wharton High School.
The Wharton student section was as vocal as ever and made it very uncomfortable for the visiting Warriors. The Warriors took the court without senior Madison Seuzeneau and the missing physical presence and mental grit were problematic.
The Wildcats certainly did not make it easy. Senior outside hitter Caci Andreychuck hit kill shots from all over the court. She could be 8 feet away from the net and still pound a kill at a defender's feet. Unofficially, she finished with 12 kills.
"When you have a player like that, you don't take her off the floor," Wildcat head coach Eric Barber said in response to Andreychuk not coming out of the game in rotation.
The Wildcats cruised 25-15 in the first set. In the second set, the Wildcats exploited their size advantage rotating in senior Ashton Stocker, Andreychuck and sophomore Avery Day at the net. No Warrior attacker faced less than two blockers in this rotation. No Warrior notched a kill in the second set as the Wildcats won 25-18.
The Warriors got their offense going and a great effort from sophomore Lauren Heldt. The Warriors won it 25-21.
However, Wharton was just too much in the end. In the fourth set, Andreychuk continued to pound away at Steinbrenner. Then Day stepped up to Heldt's effort and Steinbrenner had fired their bullets. Wharton prevailed 25-19 in the fourth set and took the match 3-1.