After successfully completing a two-year provisional period, this season marked the first official year Tampa Bay HEAT, a home-school cooperative in Brandon, was elected general membership into the Florida High School Athletic Association, allowing the sports program to compete in all state championship series.
The school’s girls volleyball team is off to a 12-2 start and has already clinched the top seed in the district, and winning the school’s first FHSAA district championship is a strong possibility.
“It’s (a goal) I pretty much set for them,” said HEAT coach Mark Kachurak, a former player at Penn State and the program’s coach since its creation three years ago. “I told them this could be a special year. They began to realize a few weeks ago that it is possible. One more win and it’s theirs.”
The HEAT competes in Class 2A-District 7 with Cambridge Christian and Academy at the Lakes. With three teams in the district, the HEAT has already clinched a playoff berth.
Junior Victoria Trueheart has been the team’s top attacker with 187 kills (fourth in the county), followed by senior Rachel Leading with 100.
Junior Ari La Roe has 338 assists for an average of 9.1 per set.
The team played only a handful of matches in its first year and could only play a regular-season schedule the last two years. Coaching the same nucleus of athletes in that time has helped with the development of the program, Kachurak said.
“They’ve raised the bar a little,” he said. “As time went on, they worked harder and harder. I challenge them and I think that works.”
Berkeley Prep dropped to No. 66 in the PrepVolleyball.com national Top 100 poll after its loss to Tampa Prep last week. The Buccaneers were previously ranked No. 43. ... Former Berkeley Prep All-American setter Mackenzie Dagostino, who graduated as the top setter in the nation in 2011, is back in the Sunshine State. Dagostino transferred to the University of Florida after her freshman year at Maryland and is currently on the Gators’ No. 3 nationally ranked team.