TAMPA — Taking on top teams has been routine for the host of the Berkeley Premier volleyball tournament, and the 21st edition was no different.
Berkeley Prep advanced to the final of its own event for the 12th time Saturday, with its sights set on a fourth title.
But Mercy, an unbeaten team from Louisville, Ky., had its own agenda. The Jaguars defeated the Bucs 25-20, 25-12 at Straz Family Field House to win the championship for the eighth time in 11 appearances.
"The main reason we come here is because the competition's good," said Mercy coach Todd Harvey, adding, "Berkeley Prep has a great program."
The Bucs (9-2) went 2-0 in pool play before defeating Walton and Orlando Bishop Moore in the Gold bracket. Bishop Moore, the only team to force Berkeley Prep to a third game before the final, defeated Mercy in last year's championship game.
Mercy, the nation's top-ranked team by MaxPreps last week, beat Berkeley Prep for the 2010 title. The Jaguars did it again Saturday to improve to 21-0 on the season.
Courtney Crable, an Auburn commitment, led the Jaguars with nine kills and six aces. Teammates Devon Rachel and Lexie Hammrick added six and five kills, respectively.
Sidney Brown led the Bucs with seven kills and four digs.
"I think we played really well until the last set of the championship," said Brown, visibly upset after the title match. "We beat Bishop Moore, so that was fun."
Berkeley Prep overcame a 25-19 loss to Bishop Moore by rallying to win the last two games of that match 25-16, 25-16.
Clearwater Central Catholic won its pool and Academy of the Holy Names was second in pool play, but neither team advanced to the silver or bronze finals.