By Matt Wiley | September 14

The Wharton Wildcats volleyball team has hosted & won each of the first two Harvest Tournaments.
The Wharton Wildcats volleyball team has hosted & won each of the first two Harvest Tournaments.

With the changing of the seasons comes the annual Harvest Volleyball Tournament at New Tampa’s Paul R. Wharton High, along with its accompanying food drive.

For the third consecutive year, Wharton High will welcome Brandon, Clearwater, Freedom, King, Riverview, Strawberry Crest and Wiregrass Ranch high schools to its Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. campus to compete in the annual girls volleyball tournament on Friday-Saturday, September 20-21. But the battle won’t be completely on the court, as each team participating also is being challenged to collect the most donated canned and boxed food items. Wharton has won the tourney each of the first two years.

“(Wharton) started the Harvest Tournament for two reasons,” explains volleyball coach Eric Barber. “To provide a tournament in the north Tampa area that these schools could attend, as well as provide a way for high school volleyball programs to directly impact their communities in a positive way.”

Barber says that the schools that he thinks will pose the biggest threat to Wharton’s “three-peat” are Wiregrass Ranch, Clearwater, and New Tampa rival Freedom. However, Barber adds that he thinks that Wharton still might have an advantage over the competition.

“We have been fortunate to win the last two, so I think a certain level of confidence comes with that,” Barber explains. “We are also working on being more diverse in our offense this year.”

Anyone planning to attend the tournament who is interested in donating cans/boxes of food is encouraged to do so, as a box will be set up in front of the gym for any donations. Wharton would like to send a big “Thank You” to the event’s sponsors: Marco’s Pizza, Bagels Plus, Dunkin’ Donuts, Rent King and RPM Physical Therapy.

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