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FORT MYERS — It’s a position the Berkeley Prep volleyball team has grown accustomed to: beat Bishop Verot, advance to the state semifinals.
For the fifth consecutive season, that’s just what the Buccaneers did Saturday, sweeping the Vikings 29-27, 25-18, 25-23 to win the Class 4A, Region 3 title.
What makes this year’s trip to Kissimmee a bit less routine for three-time defending state champion Berkeley is who isn’t along for the ride.
“I’m ecstatic at what we’ve accomplished,” Bucs first-year coach John Coup said. “We lost two All-Americans (Mackenzie Dagostino and Jordan Burgess) who did about 80 percent of the work for us last year. The kids who played with them stepped it up and showed they can be go-to-players.
“When we get in tough matches, the kids don’t crumble. They want to keep the excellence and tradition of this program going as long as they can.”
Bishop Verot (16-12) gave Berkeley all it could handle in the opening set, which featured 11 lead changes before junior outside hitter Sidney Brown closed it out with consecutive kills.
“The first set is definitely a tone setter,” Coup said. “I thought we started out a little sluggish before we picked it up. But you have to give the credit to Bishop Verot. They were pushing us.”
After an easy second-set win, the Bucs trailed the Vikings 20-14 in the third set before reeling off six consecutive points to tie. Another Brown kill finished off Verot and earned Berkeley its eighth straight appearance in the state semis.
Brown finished with 12 kills, 15 digs and three aces for the Bucs while junior setter Maddie Alberdi chipped in with 34 assists.
Berkeley (18-11) faces Jacksonville Episcopal (20-5), a straight-sets winner over Tallahassee Florida High, Friday.
3A: Terps ousted
First Academy’s quest for five consecutive state championships is still intact as the host Royals (22-8) swept Tampa Prep (14-15) 25-21, 25-20, 25-18.
“The girls have had to work so hard the entire season,’’ TFA coach Lindsey Hurlebaus said. “Coming out in that first game, being down by a few points, their perseverance has really shown through.
“These girls are amazing. Their talent is above and beyond, and their heart is indescribable.”
Senior Kali Funk’s 13 kills, 32 assists and eight digs highlighted TFA’s victory and senior Jordan Wilson added a team-high 15 digs.