The Ponte Vedra Sharks volleyball team looked all season like a team that was cruising to their third consecutive state title and fourth in five years.
Moving up from Class 5A to 6A in 2021, the Sharks rolled all the way to the state championship game at Suncoast Credit Union in Fort Myers with a 29-1 record and No. 1 ranking in Florida and No. 2 national ranking by MaxPreps.
Unfortunately for Ponte Vedra, they ran into defending 6A state champion Mater Academy Charter (Hialeah Gardens). The Sharks 14-game winning streak came to an end as they were swept by the Lions (26-7).
Despite the loss, Ponte Vedra earned three of the five first-place votes in The Prep Zone Power Poll regional all-classification rankings to finish on top of the final poll for the second straight year.
Ponte Vedra outpointed No. 2 Santa Fe (Alachua) by one point for the top spot and finished No. 2 in Florida and No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps.
Santa Fe received the other two first-place votes after winning the 4A state title for its first volleyball state championship in school history.
The Raiders (29-3) won their final 16 matches following a 3-2 loss to Ponte Vedra on Sept. 25, sweeping through every opponent in the playoffs, including defending 4A state champion No. 4 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) in the Region 1-4A final and Calvary Christian (Fort Myers) in the state title game. Santa Fe also finished No. 1 statewide and No. 2 nationally overall by MaxPreps.
Trinity Catholic (Ocala) finished at No. 3. The Celtics (24-5), the defending 3A state champion, came up close in a shot at a repeat state title, losing in five sets at eventual state champion Calvary Christian (Clearwater) in the state semifinal round.
Bishop Kenny finished No. 4. The Crusaders (20-10), who finished ranked at No. 5 in 4A, failed to repeat as state champions after being swept by Santa Fe in the region final, but moved up two spots.
Two teams are tied for No. 5. DeLand, which was knocked out by eventual 7A state runner-up Windermere in the Region 1-7A semifinal, shares the No. 5 ranking with New Smyrna Beach.
The Barracudas (22-7) are up six spots to finish in the top five as their season ended at the hands of Viera in five sets in the Region 3-6A final, just missing a spot in the state semifinal round.
Bartram Trail (St. Johns) finished No. 7, dropping three spots after losing at DeLand in five sets in the opening round of the 7A playoffs.
Right behind the Bears (19-7) is No. 8 Mandarin (Jacksonville) (22-4), which dropped four spots from the previous poll after a regional quarterfinal loss at Windermere.
Ridgeview (Orange Park) is up eight slots to finish in the top 10 at No. 9. The Panthers (17-8) advanced to the Region 1-5A final but were beaten in four sets by eventual 5A state champion Mosley (Lynn Haven).
Creekside (St. Johns) rounds out the top 10. The Knights (15-8) dropped three spots from 7th as they were swept out of the opening round of the 7A playoffs by Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs).
As for the second 10, Taylor (Pierson) makes its first appearance in the rankings at a tie for No. 14 with Trinity Christian (Jacksonville). The Wildcats (23-4) advanced to their second 1A state title game and came up just short against now nine-time defending champion Sneads, falling in five sets.
Also moving into the rankings is No. 1 Vanguard (Ocala).
The Knights, who are the only team in the poll with a losing record at 13-18, played an incredibly challenging regular season schedule. But Vanguard caught fire to reach the 5A state semifinals, where they were finally eliminated in four sets by Mosley.
Also new to the poll is Oak Hall (Gainesville), which advanced to the 2A state semifinals before being swept by eventual state champion Seacrest Country Day (Naples). The Eagles (21-9) finished 18th.
The last new entry is St. John Lutheran (Ocala). The Saints end up 20th after advancing to the regional final round in 2A.
Falling out from the previous poll were Aucilla Christian (Monticello), The Villages, Episcopal (Jacksonville) and Christ’s Church (Jacksonville).
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball, baseball and softball teams (regardless of FHSAA Classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.
The Prep Zone Power Poll – 2021 Volleyball Poll No. 4 (FINAL POLL)
(School, city, classification, first-place votes, final 2021 record, and total voting points)
1. Ponte Vedra (5A) (3) (29-2) – 98
2. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (2) (29-3) – 97
3. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (24-5) – 90
4. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-10) – 82
5T. DeLand (7A) (21-9) – 71
5T. New Smyrna Beach (6A) (22-7) – 71
7. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (19-7) – 65
8. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (22-4) – 58
9. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (17-8) – 52
10. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (15-8) – 48
11. Middleburg (5A) (18-11) – 46
12. Weeki Wachee (4A) (19-5) – 45
13. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (15-12) – 36
14T. Taylor (Pierson) (1A) (23-4) – 31
14T. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (20-10) – 31
16. Vanguard (Ocala) (5A) (13-18) – 26
17. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (18-7) – 25
18. Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (21-9) – 23
19. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (20-9) – 17
20. St. John Lutheran (Ocala) (2A) (20-6) – 11
Receiving votes: Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (16-10) – 10; Christ’s Church (Jacksonville) (2A) (14-7) – 5; Yulee (4A) (18-11) – 5; Aucilla Christian (Monticello) (2A) (19-3) – 4; The Villages (4A) (18-4) – 3.