Despite teetering on the brink of defeat, the Raiders charged back to claim victory and a 2-0 record.
Plant City volleyball narrowly escaped with a victory over Robinson on Monday night, moving to 2-0 in a season that comes with lofty expectations.
With a tied match after four sets, all of them coming right down to the wire, the two teams headed to a fifth and final set to 15.
In that final set Robinson began to pull away early, taking an 11-7 lead and needing just four points to secure victory. Moments later, despite a push from Plant City, Robinson had held on to a commanding 14-11 lead. But the Raiders battled back.
Plant City was able to tie it at 14-14, forcing a tiebreaker situation where either team would have to win by two points to take the match. After standing on the brink of defeat one final time, trailing 15-14, the Raiders rallied valiantly to take the 18-16 victory and move to 2-0 on the season.
The hot start for Plant City comes on the heels of a 13-3 season in 2020 where their year ended with a 3-2 loss to Hillsborough in the regional semifinals. But with an experienced team that includes four seniors and a new coach in Jazlyn Vereen at the helm, Plant City has high hopes for 2021.
Sara Tooman previously served as the varsity head coach for several years but opted to relinquish the position following a promotion to department head of Plant City’s physical education department, although she still assists with the program. Vereen joined PCHS’ staff as a physical education teacher and subsequently took over the varsity coaching duties.
“I definitely wanted to coach volleyball, I have a huge passion for volleyball,” Vereen said about joining Plant City’s staff. “So to be able to coach as well as teach what I want to teach is awesome.”
Vereen played volleyball at Riverview High School and club volleyball at the University of South Florida where she recently graduated from their College of Education. She volunteered with Riverview’s volleyball team for one year in 2016, working with both the varsity and junior varsity teams, and is also a new addition to the coaching staff at the Hurricane Volleyball Academy in Brandon.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls, honestly,” Vereen said following the win. “They’re great, they’ve got passion, they’re willing to fight.”
But the road won’t be easy for Plant City. Moving from division 6A to 7A this year, the Raiders now find themselves in a district that includes Newsome High School and Riverview High School, teams that handed Plant City their only two regular season losses in 2020.