TAMPA — Minutes after her team lost to Mercy Academy of Louisville in the Berkeley Premier final, Berkeley Prep senior outside hitter Sidney Brown expressed disappointment about her team’s loss.
Not because her team fell short of the tournament title, but mostly because if it hadn’t been for a few errors here and there, Brown believes the Bucs could have beaten the then nationally ranked No. 1 team.
“We played well until the last set,” she said.
This season, having consistency has been the biggest challenge for the Buccaneers (17-5), who are chasing the program’s 16th state title.
Berkeley Prep coach John Coup said two of the team’s losses this year were due to uncharacteristic errors.
“The tenacity of the other team’s defense has dictated how we play,” he said.
Now at the end of a rigorous schedule that included two national tournaments and matches against the top teams in Florida, Coup is pleased with the players’ growth as a unit.
“I really like where we’re at,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of nice things.”
Berkeley was Class 4A state runner-up to Orlando Bishop Moore last year. The top contributors on the 2012 team, aside from Brown, were stepping into new roles as go-to players. The year before, the Bucs relied on All-Americans Mackenzie Dagostino and Jordan Burgess.
“They’re veterans by class,” Coup said. “All of them were kind of role players up to last year. This year, we’re more of a complete team than we have been. Everybody is involved.”
On Wednesday, the Bucs swept Academy of the Holy Names to finish 4-0 in district play. They were led by Brown’s nine kills, but also welcomed four blocks and six kills from Madison Jenkins, five aces and 38 assists from Maddy Alberdi, eight kills from Addison Hardena and 12 digs from libero Morgan Reyes.
“We’ve been tested and tested and the positives are coming out and we’re not cracking under pressure,” Coup said.
Cougars keep winning
Durant won the Lakeland High Tournament last weekend, going 5-0 with victories against River Ridge, Haines City, Lakeland and twice against Plant City. Lakeland was the team’s third tournament championship this year. The Cougars also won the Academy of the Holy Names Invite and HCC Invite.