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TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic coach Stephen Shepherd knows what it takes to defeat Berkeley Prep. The Buccaneers made sure that didn’t happen.
Sparked by the return of senior setter Ginny Willis, Berkeley Prep began its quest toward a 14th state championship Thursday night with a 25-13, 25-12, 25-23 victory in the Class 3A, District 10 finale.
The top-seeded Buccaneers (25-2) needed only one hour to knock off the No. 2 Marauders (23-6), who were coming off an emotional five-game win against the Academy of the Holy Names on Wednesday.
"Berkeley Prep is a great team,” Shepherd said. “They play a high level of ball consistently, and that’s what you have to do to beat them.”
Willis, playing in her third match since breaking an ankle on the second day of preseason, led Berkeley Prep with 15 assists.
“I’m contributing whatever I can for the team,” she said.
Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We were playing at a very fast pace,” he said. “We were moving the ball around (and) played better defense.
“The state title is our goal. We even have it (14) written on our shirts.”
Amber Mirabello had 10 kills for Berkeley Prep. Both teams advance to the region quarterfinals Wednesday.