By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 15, 2002
LAKELAND -- King's Academy hopped on its yellow school bus with a player's name painted blue in each window and traveled three hours from West Palm Beach to reach Lakeland on Wednesday night.
They fell asleep in a hotel, ate breakfast and lunch Thursday then promptly lost 15-6, 15-8 to Berkeley Prep in the state semifinals.
The Lions felt pretty crummy about their plight, but history proves they probably shouldn't. The Lions are the Bucs' 13th semifinal victim in the past 16 years.
Shoot, the past 10 times Berkeley Prep played a semifinal, it not only won the match, but did not lose a game.
The Bucs' other semifinal matches have taken about the same time (45 minutes, longer than warmups), and one could almost drop the action into a template.
The minutes (and seconds) from Thursday's semifinal at the Lakeland Center:
20 seconds: Berkeley scores first point with first kill.
15 minutes: Berkley wins first game.
19 minutes: Second game begins.
19:20: King's Academy takes its first lead, 1-0.
30 minutes: Berkeley takes 5-4 lead and doesn't trail the rest of the way.
42 minutes: Berkeley wins match.
One difference after this semifinal was King's Academy wasn't in awe. The Lions said while the drubbing did have something to do with Berkeley Prep's talent, it also had something to do with playing poorly.
"I can't explain it, but we didn't put up our best fight," coach Kelly Chandley said. "I think the girls had some nerves and anxiety just playing in the (final four). And maybe they were just a little tight."
Which was the opposite of Berkeley Prep, even though it has only two seniors and starts two freshmen.
"I wasn't nervous at all," said Berkeley Prep freshman Jessica Glover, who led all players with 10 kills. "I felt prepared. No nerves."
In a rare twist, however, the story could change for the Bucs, who are 11-1 in state championships, the only loss coming against Tampa Prep in 1996.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the Bucs (31-3) face a formidable foe in Gainesville P.K. Yonge (31-3). Berkeley Prep defeated P.K. Yonge 15-13, 15-9 in a tournament earlier this season, but Bucs coach Randy Dagostino said the match, "truly could have gone either way. Match point went to 14 sideouts before we beat them.
"I'm expecting a great, great match on Saturday."