TAMPA — Berkeley Prep’s Sidney Brown has committed to Stanford to play volleyball next fall, but that doesn’t mean the senior outside hitter is finished fine-tuning her game.
Tuesday night — a day before visiting Berkeley Prep beat Tampa Catholic 25-9, 25-17, 25-19 — coach John Coup helped Brown tweak her serving technique, encouraging her to go from a three-step serve to a more compact two-step delivery.
Employing her new serving style against the Crusaders, Brown said she saw a huge difference in her performance.
“It’s a better rhythm for me,” she said. “Everyone has their own rhythm, and that’s just the one I found that works for me.”
Brown, the Tampa Bay Times’ all-Suncoast and all-Hillsborough County player of the year in 2012, was dominant Wednesday. She had an ace in the opening minutes of the match and back-to-back unreturnable serves in each of the next two games.
Despite his team’s oppressive presence from the service line, Coup was disappointed in its defensive effort, citing many instances of dropped and misplayed balls.
Still, in moments when his team might find itself lost, Coup knows he can count on Brown to reel in the Buccaneers (2-1). All night, she barked directions on the court. After winning the first two games, there was a break before the third began as the referees congregated at the scorer’s table.
The six Buccaneers on the court were set up and ready to start. Brown used the free moment to corral her teammates into a huddle and remind them of the game plan.
“The girl has what’s called grit,” Coup said. “She just has this unbelievable focus towards a goal. She brings everybody along with that. Not many athletes out there have grit.”
Berkeley Prep faced its biggest adversity in game three, as the Crusaders forced two tie scores. Back-to-back kills from Brown broke a 10-10 tie, and the Crusaders never got closer.
For the first time this season, Brown came out of the game as the Buccaneers neared the magic number. But after his team lost three straight match points, Coup put his weapon back on the court. It took only a minute before Brown had the winning kill.