TAMPA — As Martin County celebrated its 18-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-19 win over Berkeley Prep in the championship match of the Tampa Bay Invitational on Saturday, teary-eyed Buccaneers outside hitter Jordan Burgess stood quietly nearby.
"Our goal was to win every match against teams from Florida," Burgess said. "It was really important to us."
Berkeley Prep (19-3), which is ranked No. 15 nationally by Prepvolleyball.com and had lost only to two out-of-state teams this fall, didn't play poorly Saturday. The Buccaneers just had no answer for 6-foot-5 middle blocker Elise Walch, who has committed to Wisconsin.
By match's end, Walch had 24 kills, many of which either sparked a Martin County rally or thwarted one by Berkeley Prep. Walch, who recorded her 1,000th career kill during the event, also had six blocks.
Her sister, 6-foot-1 Nicole, added 12 kills and four blocks.
"The Walch sisters were incredible," Tigers coach Marty Bielicki said.
Their teammates weren't bad, either. Martin County (21-1), which has lost only to Plant this season and is ranked 45th, received serve well, passed even better and was solid defensively for most of the match, particularly during the crucial points.
"Martin County outplayed us," veteran Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said.
Burgess certainly did her part to give the Bucs a chance.
A sophomore who might already be the state's top performer, she led all players with 26 kills and dazzled the standing-room-only crowd at the University of Tampa Bob Martinez Center with several diving digs.
"She hit the ball really well against us," Bielicki said.
Bucs setter Mackenzie Dagostino added 10 kills and 32 assists to Berkeley's attack. Middle blocker Lindsay Young had eight kills.
"I feel like we left too many points out there," Randy Dagostino said. "Some of the girls played with a lot of heart. Others never got into that groove."
Ponte Vedra Beach Nease beat Tallahassee Leon for third place. Tampa Prep, the host school, was eighth, Brandon 13th, Newsome 15th and Durant 16th.