TAMPA — The 20th Berkeley Prep Invitational volleyball tournament attracted not just the best teams in the Tampa Bay area, it attracted some of the best teams from Florida and beyond. All told, there were three defending Florida state champions and one two-time defending Georgia state champion in the field of 16 teams, which were grouped into four pools.
"We always want the most competitive teams we can have," Berkeley Prep coach John Coup said. "This year did not disappoint."
Of the five Tampa Bay-area teams to participate, only Palm Harbor University and Berkeley Prep notched wins in pool play.
"There's no time to come back at these competitions," Buccaneer senior outside hitter Sidney Brown said. "You have to play your best and strong for both sets. I think we lost all of our second sets; it's something we need to work on."
As it was, Palm Harbor U. lost 25-22, 25-15 to First Academy of Orlando and settled for 10th place. Berkeley Prep beat Gainesville P.K. Yonge 25-19, 17-25, 25-20 to gain 11th place, and Tampa Prep lost to Tallahassee Leon to finish 14th. Bloomingdale and Academy of the Holy Names were also in the event.
The host Bucs were led by Brown, who knocked down kills from all over the floor. She fell a little out of synch in the second set but rallied in the third, with junior outside hitter Maddie Raquet knocking the final point through a block.
Brown was the only bay area athlete to make the all-tournament team. Orlando Bishop Moore, which lost the Class 4A title match to Berkeley Prep last year, won the tournament title by beating Mercy Academy of Kentucky 25-11, 25-18.
Palm Harbor led First Academy 14-11 at one point as senior middle hitter Logan Miller was a blocking force at the net. But First Academy's 6-foot-2 freshman Carly Tower proved even more formidable.