MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Player of the year
Jordan Burgess, Jr., OH, Berkeley Prep
As remarkably focused as Burgess is on the volleyball court, she’s uncontrollably giggly in front of the camera. For her Player of the Year photo shoot, she struggled to keep a straight face under the bright studio lights.
Burgess’ performance this season left most onlookers with their jaws dropped. She guided the Bucs to a second straight Class 3A state title, and no one in the bay area — check that, the state — was a more explosive hitter than Burgess, who averaged 5.9 kills a game (and 7.5 in the state tournament).
While fighting double teams all season, few could spring as high, hit around a block or attack from the back row like Burgess.
In Berkeley’s biggest win of the season, a five-game state semifinal win over Bishop Moore, she had 37 kills and 18 digs. She was named a MaxPreps first-team All-American, the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year and the Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Volleyball.
Before next season begins, Burgess will likely commit to one of the nation’s top college volleyball programs — Stanford, Penn State, California, Texas or UCLA (four of the five were in this year’s Elite Eight). Considering that fact, and that Burgess is only a junior, it looks like her best is yet to come.
Coach of the year
Randy Dagostino, Berkeley Prep
Dagostino, key to building elite volleyball in the bay area, led the Bucs to a 30-2 record and won his 14th state title , second most of any coach in state history. With a career record of 799-159, he will win his 800th match next season — and be primed for title No. 15.
OH Alex Johnson, Sr., Plant: The Georgetown-bound senior and Class 6A Player of the Year was the top hitter (5.1 kills a game) on the Panthers’ fifth straight state title team.
OH Courtney Liddle, Jr., Nature Coast: The North Suncoast Player of the Year recorded 569 kills, 342 digs and 106 aces to send the Sharks into Class 4A’s elite eight.
MH Sarah Burrington, Jr., Riverview: The 6-foot-3 Florida State commit (4.5 kills, 3.1 digs and 1.2 blocks) led the Sharks to their first district title.
MH Leah McNary, Sr., Palm Harbor University: The high-flying Hurricane is small (5-10) but quick. And when she’s hot, look out.
MH Lauran Eschenroeder, Sr., East Lake: The Pinellas County Player of the Year had 324 kills to lead East Lake to its first state title and a 29-2 record.
Lib Natasha Rowland, Sr., Berkeley Prep: Her steady passing and defense (5.4 digs a game) frustrated some of the state’s top hitters.
S MacKenzie Dagostino, Jr., Berkeley Prep: Bay area’s top setter and Maryland commit ran the Bucs’ fast-paced offense to perfection, especially in the postseason .
OH Jessica Johnson, Jr., Bishop McLaughlin
OH Gabby Fernandez, Sr., Tampa Prep
OH Amber Mirabello, Sr., Berkeley Prep
OH Tina Catanach, Sr., Plant
MH Berkley Whaley, Jr., Lakewood
MH Brianna McComeskey, Jr., East Lake
S Maren Douglas, Jr., Plant
Brandon: Lindsey Watson
Clearwater: Nikki O’Rourke, Kahley Patrick
Clearwater Central Catholic: Kalyn Baird
Countryside: Sara Wright
Durant: Alison Wade
East Lake: Brittnay Estes, Rachel Reed, Jackie Wegner
Holy Names: Sidney Brown
Hudson: Lacey Carley
Indian Rocks Christian: Marisa Moralobo, Madi Loebel
Land O’Lakes: Morgan Crescent, Teresa Della Penna
Mitchell: Devan Dampier
Nature Coast: Lauren Powell
Northside Christian: Jennica Mullins
Plant: Callie Henley, Charlotte Hill
PHU: Chelsea King
Seminole: Marissa Lisenbee
Tampa Prep: Ericka McGriff
Wiregrass Ranch: Chelsea Violenes