By EMILY NIPPS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 1, 2001
TAMPA -- Yes, it's the same old song about Tampa Prep and Berkeley Prep. The rivalry, the history, the talent. The buzz hasn't rested for 24 years and it's not about to take a back seat now, even with four other local teams still alive in the state playoffs.
The Tampa Prep-Berkeley Prep rivalry, once again, is big news. Tampa Prep coach Paul McAdoo will take it one step further.
"I don't think you have another rivalry like this in the state, or even at a national level," McAdoo said. "And that's including the boys sports, like football and basketball."
While it's hard to speak for the nation, it's also tough to argue with McAdoo's claim. At the least, there has been no other local rivalry that has produced as many tears during the years or packed as many gyms. There have been few high school games that have been as close and heated, even when one team is having a bad season.
This season, Tampa Prep and Berkeley Prep are trying to renew a tradition that took a break last year, when neither team made it to the state tournament. For the 20 years before the 2000 season, either Tampa Prep or Berkeley Prep won a state title. The teams have 24 titles between them.
Saturday, the Terrapins and Buccaneers could meet for the 74th time since the rivalry began in 1977. To make it that far, they will have to knock off their Class 2A, Region 3 semifinal opponents. Tampa Prep is ranked No. 1 in 2A and Berkeley Prep is ranked No. 2.
"Whenever we play Tampa Prep, we know it's going to be one of the toughest matches of the season," Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said. "Certainly, it keeps us strong when three or four of our matches are the toughest we're going to play."
Throughout the season, McAdoo and Dagostino have said this could be one of the strongest volleyball seasons ever in Hillsborough County. That was backed up by the results of this year's Berkeley Premier tournament. After one of the country's top teams (Class 6A Boca Raton Olympic Heights) took first place, Berkeley Prep, Durant, Plant and Tampa Prep rounded out the top five.
"There are four teams (Plant, Durant, Tampa Prep and Berkeley Prep) right now that could feasibly win a state championship," McAdoo said. "Unfortunately, only three can actually make it."