TAMPA — Subtract some fleeting first-game momentum by Clearwater Central Catholic, which scored five of the first eight points against Berkeley Prep, and Tuesday’s region semifinal was gradually being stripped of suspense.
So Buccaneers coach Randy Dagostino created some — for one game.
Inserting all backups — except for his libero — in Game 3, Dagostino watched the Marauders capitalize with a 25-14 triumph. Then, the Bucs’ regulars returned. So did momentum, monstrous net play and the mojo that has Berkeley (27-2) staring smack at a 14th state title.
Three Bucs — Mackenzie Dagostino, Amber Mirabello and Megan Simon — collected four blocks each as Berkeley rolled to a 3-1 victory (25-15, 25-8, 14-25, 25-9) in a rematch of the District 10 championship.
“We’ve been working an awful lot on serving tougher and spreading the ball around on offense, and I thought we did both of those things,” Randy Dagostino said. “I was very pleased with our blocking tonight and our serving.”
CCC’s early surge was thwarted by consecutive kills by Jordan Burgess (17 kills) and Mirabello (10 kills), starting an 11-2 Game 1 run. Berkeley, which also got 25 digs from Natasha Rowland, never was threatened from there.
Except for Game 3.
“There’s a reason they were ranked No. 1 in the nation for half the year,” Marauders coach Stephen Shepherd said.“I just wanted to see us come in and play a consistently high level of volleyball all night and not give up any points, not give up anything easy … and I think we did a good job.”
All of CCC’s top performers Tuesday were non-seniors. Junior Megan Miller had 26 assists, while classmate Kalyn Baird tallied a team-high 11 kills. Junior Morgan O’Brien and sophomore Casey Moore had six kills each.