The banners of past Tampa Prep state championships line one whole wall at the Terrapins new gym. There are so many _ 14 _ they stretch past the edge of the court and into the dark walkway next to the stands.
Thanks to Tuesday night's 25-22, 25-21, 25-7 win over Fort Myers Evangelical Christian in a Class 2A, Region 3 quarterfinal, the Terrapins left open the possibility of adding one more.
The Terrapins advance to Saturday's semifinal at Berkeley Prep at 2 p.m. against Winter Park Trinity Prep or Lakeland Christian. If they win they would play at 7 p.m. for the chance to go to the state tournament.
Tampa Prep (19-8) started quickly in each of the first two games Tuesday but allowed the Sentinels to come back each time. Evangelical (22-6) even managed to hold a 22-20 lead in Game 1 before the Terrapins scored the final five points thanks to a pair of kills from Rachael Phillips.
Tampa Prep was still sluggish in the second game but seemed to wake up with each point.
"When they're playing like that I just try to let them work through it," coach Paul McAdoo said. "They have to get themselves out of the sort of daze they might be in."
The third game was no contest as Tampa Prep stormed to a 7-1 lead, increased it to 14-5 and then scored 11 of the next 13 points. Jess Thomas, who led Tampa Prep with 17 kills, ended the match with a one-timer kill on a Sentinel return.
"When we're on that's how we play," McAdoo said of the third game. "When we're into the match that's how we're supposed to play. I just had to give them the opportunity to work through it."
Lauren Miles led the Terrapins with 18 assists, followed by Brittany Pierpont, who had 17. Lindsey Karlin had 16 digs.
Berkeley Prep advances
TAMPA _ Using dominant offense and superior frontline play, Berkeley Prep opened the playoffs with a 3-1 win over Orlando First Academy. Berkeley Prep (26-2) advanced to Saturday's region semifinals against Fort Myers Canterbury.
Berkeley Prep opened solidly, winning the first two games with relative ease 25-15 and 25-10. Sophomore hitter Jessica Glover and sophomore middle blocker Courtney Cohen clogged the middle to thwart First Academy attacks. Then outside hitters Cally Stolbach and Allison Sharp took advantage of numerous kill opportunities.
First Academy (19-9) fought back in the third game, going ahead 7-3. The Bucs rallied to tie it at 14 and at 18 but miscues allowed the Royals to go on a 7-2 run.
But any thoughts of a First Academy comeback where extinguished quickly as Berkeley streaked to a 10-4 lead in the fourth game on its way to a 25-19 win that ended the match.
Glover led the Bucs with 12 kills, Sharp had seven and Stolbach added eight kills and three aces.
_ ROD GIPSON