TAMPA -- So Barry's volleyball team went off on this northwestern path to play the best the Sunshine State Conference and nation had to offer. What the Buccaneers discovered is they're not that far from the top.
Barry dropped a four-set match to No. 5 nationally-ranked Tampa, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, Friday in a match that -- while no moral victories are salvaged -- the Bucs found something within that only spells potential for the future.
The Buccaneers (10-8, 3-4 SSC) kept a first set within striking distance when Ashley Carrero's kill hit the floor to pull Barry within 13-11. But Tampa (15-2, 8-0) rattled off six straight points to lay claims to a 1-0 match lead.
Barry raced out to a 10-5 lead in the second set when Laine Cielena put down a kill in the middle. Tampa cut it to 12-11 before Carrero's kill stopped the Spartans surge. Cielena put away another ball to give the Buccaneers a 20-15 lead. Tampa closed to within 23-20, but Tania Torres' kill and another by Cielena in between two Spartans kills helped Barry knot the match at a set apiece.
Tampa, which outhit Barry, .276 to .182 -- despite the Buccaneers advantage in total kills, 55-47 -- broke away in the third set after the Buccaneers cut what was a six-point deficit to three on Jackie Neff's error. The Spartans inched ahead, 20-15, on a Bucs hitting error before Torres put away two balls in sideout situations to keep Barry within four. But the Spartans ran off four of the last five points to go up 2-1 in the match.
In the fourth set, Tampa came up with one of its 11 blocks to take a 17-10 lead. But Barry didn't wither away easily as the Bucs outscored the Spartans, 7-4 -- the last during that swing on Jayla Trombley's kill -- to pull within 21-17. Torres and Trombley tagged Tampa with a pair of kills to cut it to 22-19, but the Spartans nabbed three of the final four points to ice it.
Torres and Tampa's Holly Reschke had a match-high 15 kills. Tampa's Danielle Selkridge followed with 13, and Carrero had 12 kills and 10 digs. Trombley had nine kills and two blocks. Cielena hit .636, pounding seven kills on 11 attempts without committing an attacking error.
Bucs setter Mima Hajdukovic had 44 assists and six kills. Tampa Plant High School product Kate Dooley, a Buccaneer freshman, had five kills and four block assists in her return home. Barry's Mariana Lisboa returned after missing the last six matches with an injury. Lisboa had four digs and an assist in limited duty.
Barry plays at Eckerd (11-7, 5-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday to complete the first half of league play.