TAMPA — This time there was no overconfidence.
No two-game deficit to overcome. Just simple, convincing domination.
After posting a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in last year's Class 2A-3 region final against Northside Christian, Tampa Prep made things easy this time around on Saturday, winning handily 25-18, 25-22, 25-16.
"We just came in with a calm approach, and it allowed us to take an early lead and gave us the ability to deal with any setbacks later," said Tampa Prep senior hitter Megan Aschenbrenner, who led the Terrapins with 11 kills. "Volleyball is such a psychological game, and I just think we had a calmness about us that helped our confidence and our aggressiveness."
Playing in front of a boisterous student body in the Bob Martinez Gymnasium, the Terrapins (16-10) showcased that calm demeanor with timely digs and precise passing, and kept the Mustangs (20-10) on their heels with aggressive net play.
Tampa Prep had 38 kills to Northside's 23.
"It was a demonstration of how confident we were," Tampa Prep coach Mike Flynn said. "We've learned how to lean on each other, and it was one of the reasons why we were able to accelerate from Northside Christian."
After cruising in the first set, the Terrapins built a 15-5 lead in the second. But after the visitors rallied to tie late, Tampa Prep won the last three points, culminated by a ferocious kill from Aschenbrenner.
The Mustangs seemed to be on their way back in the third set, building an 8-6 lead. But the Terrapins won the next nine points, highlighted by three kills from Ericka McGriff, daughter of former Rays first baseman Fred McGriff. The Terrapins cruised to victory after the run.
"It was a combination of what they did right and what we did wrong," Northside Christian coach Kelly Jackson said. "It's disappointing because we prepared all year for this match."
Jennica Mullins led the Mustangs with 14 kills.