TAMPA — With Tampa Prep playing sharp, particularly at the net, and momentum squarely in the Terrapins' corner late in the third game against Berkeley Prep on Tuesday night, Buccaneers coach Randy Dagostino knew something had to be done. The serve, he figured, was a good place to begin.
"We started serving to different areas of the court to take (Tampa Prep middle blocker) Dana Malinowski out of the match," Dagostino said.
As the Bucs mixed things up, Tampa Prep's serve receive went south, which disrupted the Terps' offensive continuity and limited Malinowski's touches — and effectiveness. With Tampa Prep struggling for offense, Berkeley Prep not only rallied to take Game 3, but poured it on down the stretch to defeat its archrival 25-12, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17 before a typically boisterous Berkeley Prep-Tampa Prep crowd.
"We really didn't want to go five games," Berkeley Prep middle blocker Lindsay Young said.
The Bucs (10-0), ranked 59th in the country by Prepvolleyball.com, weren't perfect. But at times, they were very good, especially in the final game when their offensive attack really began to click.
"Some of our players got hot," Dagostino said.
Between them, Jordan Burgess (16), Chelsea Parker (13), Mackenzie Dagostino (nine) and Young (seven) combined for 45 kills. Dagostino and Young added four blocks each and setter Christina Theofilos produced 29 assists.
For Tampa Prep (3-3), this was not an easy loss to swallow.
"It was not a good match for us," Terps coach Mike Flynn said. "We still have gaps in our play. We're still playing like it's the third week in September. Berkeley Prep's a good team. But we helped them a lot. It's a learning opportunity for us to be better."
The truth is, Tampa Prep, led by Malinowski (15 kills), Alena Ransom (14 kills) and Caroline Dillabough (40 assists) didn't play poorly at all. But the Terrapins broke down at the worst possible time, when they had a realistic chance to take a two-games-to-one lead.
"We had our chances and we weren't able to capitalize," Flynn said.