TAMPA ― Prior to this season, Carrollwood Day and Berkeley Prep were only occasional opponents. During the Patriots’ run to a Class 4A state championship in 2017, the Bucs were one of only two teams to beat them. Last season, Berkeley Prep did it again in Carrollwood Day’s rebuilding year.
This season the teams were placed in the same district when the Patriots moved down to Class 3A. If they were going to be competitive in a tough district that also includes Bishop McLaughlin, they had to find a way to beat the Bucs.
After a shaky start, Carrollwood Day finally pulled it off at home with a 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-20 win. The Patriots (8-4, 2-0) are atop Class 3A, District 4 early in the season. Berkeley Prep falls to 6-3, 1-1.
“We’ve been trying to beat this team for so long," Patriots senior outside hitter Haley Brown said. “Our energy just took over and helped us push through and win."
It didn’t look good at the start. Carrollwood Day led for most of the first set and looked like it would take an early lead. With the score tied 18-18, the Patriots ripped off five straight points highlighted by two aces by Kacy Krig.
After a timeout and Carrollwood Day leading 23-18, Berkeley Prep got it going. A net violation, an ace by Natalie Bono, two blocks from Camryn Carlo, another ace by Bono, another net violation and another Carlo block ended the set and gave the Bucs an improbable 1-0 lead.
That necessitated a pep talk.
“We can either fight or we can roll over," Carrollwood Day coach Spencer Hilland said. “What do you want to do? Everyone just looked at each other and started cheering. They really wanted it."
The Patriots got out to an 11-8 lead in the second set. Then came five straight points that included kills by Jalyn Brown and Haley Brown. Speaking of Browns, eighth-grade setter Lilly Brown injured her ankle after the first set and did not return. Senior Bella Stewart took over for the rest of the match.
The second set ended on two errors by the Bucs and the match was tied 1-1.
The third set wasn’t very close from the beginning. Carrollwood Day had a 14-5 lead and the Bucs never got closer than seven points from there.
Berkeley Prep did not fade away in the fourth. The Bucs hung around throughout and the set was tied 18-18 late. But five straight points by the Patriots basically closed it out. The match ended when Haley Brown got the last of her 14 kills.
“There was no energy in the first set," sophomore outside hitter Jasmine Welton said. “In the second set we told ourselves we were not going to lose. We had a lot more energy. We pulled it out."
Carrollwood Day faces another tough test on Thursday at Calvary Christian, then follows that with the Academy of the Holy Names tournament. Berkeley Prep plays Calvary Christian on Friday.