TAMPA — Berkeley Prep faltered in the final of the Tampa Bay Invitational for the second straight year on Saturday, falling 3-1 to Orlando's Timber Creek.
"We ran out of gas," Buccaneers head coach Randy Dagostino said. "It's more of a mental thing than a physical thing, but we just ran out of gas."
Berkeley Prep steamrolled their opponents in match play at the University of Tampa, only meeting resistance against St. Thomas Aquinas. The Bucs earned the top spot in their group and faced St. Paul's (Mobile, Ala.) in the semifinals. The Bucs advanced with a 3-1 victory (25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20).
The first three games of the final match against Timber Creek went beyond 25 points, with the Wolves taking the first game 27-25. Berkeley Prep won the second game 26-24 behind 11 kills from Jordan Burgess. Timber Creek took the third game 26-24, then dominated the fourth game 25-14. In the last game, Timber Creek jumped ahead 9-3, and the Bucs could never close the gap, only getting as close as 10-5.
Berkeley's Burgess and Christina Theofilos were the only area athletes named to the all-tournament team. Burgess had 27 kills in the final, and Chelsea Parker added 14. MacKenzie Dagostino had 37 assists and two blocks.
Timber Creek cemented its spot as the top-ranked team in the state with the win.
"They're legit," Dagostino said. "They're No. 1, we're second. They have probably the best player in the state (Jessica Yingling)."
Durant and Tampa Prep, the only other Hillsborough County schools in the event, failed to win a match in group play, and were paired for the 15th-place game. Durant prevailed 3-2.
Tampa Prep coach and tournament organizer Mike Flynn called the event "amazing."
"There's always surprises," he said. "The top four seeds went as planned, but one nice thing about the tournament is the upsets."