This year's Class A, District 9 volleyball tournament marks the end of classic post-season rivalry. It's the last time for at least two years that Berkeley Prep and Tampa Prep will be vying for the same district title.
The two volleyball powers have dominated the district and the Class A state tournament for the past 10 years.
Berkeley Prep won the last two state titles, plus a third one in 1986. Tampa Prep had six state championships from 1980-85 and another in 1987.
Although the heated rivalry will continue in the regular season, Berkeley Prep will move to Class 2A beginning next year because of increased enrollment. The Florida High School Activities Association reclassifies schools every two years.
It is no surprise that the Bucs (27-5) and the Terps (25-9) are the top two seeds in the tournament, which starts today at Berkeley Prep and concludes Friday.
Bucs coach Randy Dagostino said his top-seeded team has not lost a home game since 1987.
Berkeley Prep is coming off a three-game win over Bradenton Christian in the Bay Conference championship Thursday.
"It went three because I put in my second team for the second game," Dagostino said.
The Bucs have a first-round bye and won't play until Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when they face the winner of today's match between No. 12 seed Santa Fe Catholic and Seminole Presbyterian (No. 8).
"We've really only played two matches in two weeks," Dagostino said. "I don't think we'll be rusty, but it may take us a little time to get in synch."
The Terps, on the other hand, just returned from Miami where they played matches against two 4A teams and a 2A team. Although Tampa Prep lost all three matches, coach Carol Dagostino said it was good preparation for the district tournament.
"It was not a downer," said Carol Dagostino, who was formerly married to Randy Dagostino. "They were all good teams and all the matches were real close. We played very well."
Tampa Prep also plays its first district game on Tuesday. The Terps will go up against the winner of Lake Wales (No. 11) and Lakeland Christian (No. 7).
"Hopefully by the end of the week we'll be in top form," Carol Dagostino said. "We want to be in the finals with Berkeley. My kids will be up for it.
"I think Berkeley is going to have to be careful because they've beaten us twice in a row and we're going to come at them hard."
Fifth-seeded Bayshore Christian (13-9) is another contender. Coach Maria Hardwick said the Faith Warriors are aiming to prevent a Berkeley Prep-Tampa Prep final.
"Any team out there can be beaten," Hardwick said. "They're not perfect. They're human. They make mistakes."
Hardwick said she is looking forward to a possible semifinal match against Tampa Prep on Thursday.
"It's a confidence factor," she said. "I believe there can be upsets."
The Faith Warriors play their first round match Monday against the No. 9 seed Pathway Christian of Lakeland, a team which they have defeated twice during the regular season.