TAMPA — Tampa Prep volleyball coach Mike Flynn has been fielding e-mails since December — from far-off places like Pennsylvania and Texas — from teams wanting to play in the Tampa Bay Invitational.
As the tournament enters its 24th year, it still is one of the premier high school events in the Southeast because of its deep pool of state contenders.
"It's not only the top eight teams," Flynn said. "What's amazing is that teams eight to 16 always seem to get two or three upsets a year."
And this is just the reason former longtime Tampa Prep volleyball coach Carol Chalu, now the school's athletic director, organized the event — to give teams top-level competition as playoffs loom.
"The event had stayed true to the tradition of including state volleyball powers," Flynn said.
Though Tampa Prep, which has spent the season playing big-school competition, is seeded ninth in the 16-team field and enters the weekend just 8-7, the purpose of the tournament is as poignant as ever.
"When we get to our class, you want to be ready," Flynn said. "We want to be to the point where (being tied) 23-23 doesn't scare us."