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Berkeley Prep feels sting

KISSIMMEE — Before Berkeley Prep did it to Orlando Bishop Moore, Orlando Lake Highland Prep did it to them.

For four straight years, from 2005 to 2008, Lake Highland was the immovable object in the way of Berkeley Prep's dreams of a state volleyball championship.

The Buccaneers never got a chance to exact vengeance during their three-year title run and, yes, it gnawed at them a little.

Bishop Moore will have no such regrets.

The Hornets finally ended their state tournament futility against Berkeley Prep on Saturday, rolling to a three-set sweep, 25-23, 25-22, 25-12, in the Class 4A championship match at Silver Spurs Arena.

"They definitely capitalized on their pent-up anger from the past (two) years," said Berkeley Prep junior outside hitter Sidney Brown.

The Buccaneers (19-12) came up short of a fourth consecutive state title in their first season under coach John Coup and with a bevy of young players filling in for graduated All-Americans Jordan Burgess and Mackenzie Dagostino.

Berkeley Prep recovered after its early stumbles, losing more matches this season than in the previous three years combined (nine), and made its eighth straight appearance in the Final Four. Though heavy underdogs, the Bucs seemed primed to mount a serious threat to Bishop Moore, whom they defeated in the finals last year and in the semifinals in 2010.

But the Hornets (32-0) overwhelmed them with the sort of experience and major-college talent — three seniors are bound for Division I programs — that Berkeley Prep was known for during its last title run. The Bucs were trying to win the program's 16th overall state title, which would be a record for the Tampa Bay area.

Lindsey Owens (headed for Virginia Tech) finished with a game-high 14 kills, Danielle Glinka (Dartmouth) added 11 and Allie Monserez (South Carolina) had 31 assists to lead Bishop Moore to its first state championship since 2000.

"To beat Berkeley in our last high school game … it's amazing," Owens said. "To finally get revenge for it is awesome."

In the semifinals Friday, Berkeley Prep rolled to a three-set win over Jacksonville Episcopal while the Hornets barely survived a five-set semifinal against Miami Ransom Everglades.

Regardless, Bishop Moore stormed to early leads in all three sets and never trailed.

"We were not ready for them and their fire," said Brown, who led the Bucs with 13 kills.

Compounding their troubles, the Bucs were never quite able to seize the lead after mounting furious comebacks.

In the first set, the Bucs battled back and tied it at 23 before Glinka closed with two scores.

Again in the second set, Berkeley Prep rallied from an eight-point deficit to get within 23-21. But the Bucs had a serving error and Glinka got the clinching kill.

"We put ourselves in a lot of holes early," Coup said. "And every time we had a chance to take a lead, we'd miss a routine play."

The Hornets, the nation's top-ranked team according to MaxPreps, pulled away in the third set en route to a 25-12 victory.

When it was all over, the Bucs finally switched postgame roles with the Hornets: They were in tears while their opponents celebrated wildly on the other side of the net; they were the ones walking away with the silver medals; and they were the ones resolving that next season would be different.

"We're so accustomed to being the victor," Brown said. "We're not going to forget how this feels because we're going to be back next year and this is not going to happen."

Joel Anderson can be reached at janderson@tampabay.com or on Twitter at @jdhometeam.

Berkeley Prep feels sting 11/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 7:43pm]
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