TAMPA — Berkeley Prep’s “Win Again” campaign opened regional play Wednesday night in dominant fashion, sweeping Lakeland McKeel Academy 25-7, 25-11, 25-16.
Berkeley Prep, the defending Class 3A state champion, is vying for its 14th state championship and first back-to-back state titles since it won three in a row from 1997 to 1999.
That fact isn’t lost on the Buccaneers, who are wearing “Win Again 14” T-shirts.
And in a match that took just 50 minutes, McKeel now knows as well.
The Buccaneers (26-2) blasted the Wildcats in the opening two games, breaking open close games early and going on to win with ball control and strong play at the net. When Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino shifted his lineup to underclassmen in the third game, McKeel managed to make a run.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 7-1 lead before Berkeley Prep settled down and rallied, tying at 13. From that point, the Buccaneers returned to their usual selves, going on a 12-2 run the rest of the game to finish off McKeel.
Sophomore hitter Corey Salzer led the Bucs with nine kills, while Jordan Burgess and Amber Mirabello each added seven kills. Setter Mackenzie Dagostino posted 15 assists and libero Natasha Rowland had 12 digs.
“That is our goal every year,” Randy Dagostino said about his team’s dominant regional start on its drive for a 14th state title. “We have a good team. And unless we’re having an off night, that’s how we’re going to play.”