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TAMPA — Just moments after Berkeley Prep won its second straight state volleyball title this time last year, the focus turned to No. 15.
“Right then I thought, ‘We’ve got one more,’ ” Berkeley coach Randy Dagostino said Tuesday during his final practice of the season.
This week the Buccaneers (28-2) can claim their 15th state championship at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, tying Tampa Prep’s record for the most in the bay area and second most in state history.
With two more wins — the No. 6-ranked Bucs face Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (24-1) in Wednesday’s Class 4A semifinal then will likely play No. 8 Orlando Bishop Moore (30-1) in the title match Thursday — Berkeley can reach a goal that has been a long time coming. Claiming No. 15 has been a constant in the Buccaneers’ minds.
“When we went on family vacation to Hawaii over the summer,” said Berkeley Prep setter Mackenzie Dagostino, Randy’s daughter, “We sat there and talked about it for an hour, about what we had to do to win, what tournaments we had to play in.
“This has been our whole goal all season. We haven’t thought about anything else. It’s been all about states. Mentally, we’re right there.”
For Berkeley’s talented seniors, setter Mackenzie Dagostino and outside hitter Jordan Burgess, this is the opportunity to finish their high school careers with a third straight state title. Burgess will attend Stanford next year, and Dagostino is heading to Maryland. They are also the school-record holders in career kills and assists, respectively.
“I won’t lie to you,” Randy Dagostino said. “I really want this one, I do. I just feel like what a way to go out, with the two best players we’ve ever had at this school.
“The best volleyball that’s been played here is being played right now on this court. I’d really love to have that signature moment of saying, ‘We’ve really gone as far as we could and we’ve done it a good way.’ ”
This might be Berkeley’s toughest task in those three seasons. Cardinal Gibbons, which has a state-record 18 state titles, boasts three Division I recruits — outside hitter Leigh Andrew (UNC), middle blocker Katie Hillman (Delaware) and setter Caiti Donahoe (Miami).
And Berkeley Prep handed Bishop Moore its past two defeats — a five-game Bucs win in the Berkeley Premier final in September and another five-game match in last year’s Class 3A state semifinal.
“I think there is added pressure,” Burgess said. “It’s about making sure everybody realizes it’s just a game and that you don’t need to play any differently because it’s the state championship. You understand it’s just another team. We’ve scouted them, we’re ready, don’t make it better than it is.”
Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee. Admission is $9 per session.
4A semifinal: Cardinal Gibbons vs. Berkeley Prep, 2 Wednesday
Berkeley Prep volleyball by the numbers
14 State titles
57 Consecutive wins against in-state opponents
87-6 Record the past three seasons
827 Career wins by coach Randy Dagostino, second most in the state
1047 Career kills by senior outside hitter Jordan Burgess, school record
3366 Career assists by senior setter Mackenzie Dagostino, school record