Faster than a pizza delivery driver can deliver the goods, Berkeley Prep and the Academy of the Holy Names earned easy victories Tuesday night on the first day of quarterfinal matches of the Class 3A, District 6 volleyball tournament.
Berkeley (27-5) trailed briefly in each game against St. Petersburg Catholic (7-13), but the Buccaneers, who are ranked No. 2 in the state 3A poll and No. 11 in the USA Today national poll, flexed their muscle for a 15-1, 15-7 victory. The Academy, No. 6 in the state poll, whipped first-year program Lake Placid 15-3, 15-3.
Both matches were over in 29 minutes.
Both winning teams advanced to semifinal action Thursday. Berkeley will play the winner of today's 6 p.m. match between top-ranked Tampa Prep (29-3 and No. 13 nationally) and Frostproof, while tournament host Academy will face the winner of today's match between fifth-ranked and top-seeded Sarasota Cardinal Mooney (24-7) and Tampa Catholic.
Both Tampa teams relied on a strong service game Tuesday to simplify their task.
But Berkeley actually trailed 0-1 in each game after a couple of crisp serves by St. Petersburg Catholic's Kathleen Klesius.
Mary Leffers, a 6-foot-4 middle blocker for Berkeley, displayed her serving prowess Tuesday, with four service winners, three of them in the first game when the junior served out the match after stepping up to the service line with a 4-1 lead.
"She had a flat floater that barely got over the net every time by an inch or two, but we had trouble with it," Barons coach Keith Aeschbach said. "We had prepared for harder, deeper serves and it caught our players off guard and took us out of our planned offense."
Berkeley coach Randy Dagostino, who usually inserts his bench after a lopsided first-game win, stuck with his starters throughout the match to prepare for the possible game with Tampa Prep. Scrappy play by Klesius and Lanelle Barnes kept the Barons within striking distance at 12-7 in the second game, but a couple of tips for points and a service winner, all by Dominique Philipp, sealed Berkeley's win.
"We wanted them to play in this gym and get used to the facility as much as they possibly could," Dagostino said. "We wanted to make sure we did all the things necessary to give us the best possible chance of winning (if) we face Tampa Prep on Thursday."
Philipp paced the Bucs with seven kills and Kerry Bridenback added four kills. The Barons had three kills in the entire match.
The Academy also received a stellar service game from Andrea Koenig. The senior hitter recorded an ace and three service winners in the first game, serving through an 0-1 deficit to a 10-1 lead.
"I try to place my serves. They were having trouble in the back row, so I tried to go deep in the backcourt and it worked," Koenig said. "This (win) helps keep our morale up. We know we can do it now and we just have to out and do it again."
The Academy defeated Cardinal Mooney a week ago.
Koenig finished with a team-high four kills Tuesday; sophomore Rachael Scott also added four kills, all in the second game, when the Jaguars built a 9-0 lead. Maureen Reilly added three kills.
East Bay, Plant City
fall in tourney
LAKELAND _ Using two different game plans, Winter Haven and Lake Gibson engineered comeback victories to earn semifinal berths in the Class 6A, District 7 volleyball tournament.
Winter Haven defeated East Bay 15-10 and 15-2 after trailing 8-1 in the first game of the match. After coach Sonia Cook called a timeout, Winter Haven served up nine consecutive points to get themselves back in the game.
"Yeah, we call them the cardiac kids," Cook said.
During the timeout, Cook made an adjustment in the team's ball setting. "I just told them not to set the ball in front of No.
21 (Monica Triner)," Cook said.
Winter Haven will now take on 6A rival, Lakeland on Thursday.
Lake Gibson dropped its second game 12-15 after winning the first 16-14 over Plant City. It stormed back in a decisive third game to win 15-4. The Braves must face Bloomingdale (15-3) in the other semifinal.
_ MATT CUNNINGHAM