LAKELAND — Tampa Prep setter Caroline Dillabough said she and her teammates are reminded constantly of the school's 15 state volleyball titles. You can't help but see the banners in the Terrapins' gym during every practice.
"You see that when you're setting, when you're serving," Dillabough said. "All the time."
The Terrapins haven't won a state title since 2004, but after beating Tallahassee Maclay 25-10, 25-19, 25-17 in Friday's Class 2A state semifinals, Tampa Prep has the chance to hang another banner.
"We're now going hunting for big gold medals," Tampa Prep coach Mike Flynn said.
After losing in the state semifinals last year, the Terps are in the state championship for the first time since they won their last state crown. Despite starting the season 1-6, a take-all-comers schedule prepared the Terps for Friday's win.
"Coming in here, we expect to see the big 5A schools," freshman middle hitter Katie Krueger said. "You expect to see teams like Plant coming and hitting at us. And then when it's not as big a team as them, it helps I think."
Latora Lofgren led the Terrapins (18-10) with 10 kills and 11 digs, while Krueger (eight kills), Ericka McGriff (six kills) and Dillabough (five kills) shared the offensive load.
"They were able to really split up their sets, which was hard for us to defend," Maclay coach Jessica Cortese said. "They're a good all-around team."
And it was Dillabough, a senior who finished with 30 assists and 12 digs, who kept Maclay guessing, working the middle with quick sets and even dumping the ball over the net on occasion.
"You can always find a weakness in any team," Dillabough said of the dumps. "You usually just sneak a peek before, especially during long rallies when everyone is tired and waiting for the next hit."
Maclay (24-7) helped early on, committing four service errors in the first set. Tampa Prep, however, made its share of mistakes, with 23 combined errors.
"I think we didn't play our game," Flynn said. "Tonight we were pretty much two-dimensional. We didn't see a lot of our offense, so we're going to have a better job of that."