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Berkeley's young players building volleyball team

Now juniors, Lindsay Young, left, and Chelsea Parker are a huge reason the Bucs find themselves aiming toward state.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Now juniors, Lindsay Young, left, and Chelsea Parker are a huge reason the Bucs find themselves aiming toward state.

TAMPA — Berkeley Prep volleyball coach Randy Dagostino knows his team enters this weekend's Berkeley Premier tournament as one of the youngest in the eight-team field.

He has just one senior (libero Christina Theofilos), but despite their age, this Buccaneers are deep with leadership. A pair of juniors, middle hitter Lindsay Young and outside hitter Chelsea Parker, both started as freshmen and now find themselves mentoring a new crop of freshmen.

Without the duo, Berkeley's annual dream of a state title wouldn't be anywhere near a reality.

"Without them, it doesn't happen, there's no way it happens," Dagostino said. "They've played in every big match that we've played since 2006."

• • •

With the gifts of height and speed, Young grew up playing middle hitter. But when she arrived at Berkeley as a freshman, Dagostino placed her outside, where she blossomed as one of the top outside hitters in the state.

But the past two years, the 6-foot-1 Young has come back to the middle. "She really has nailed down that position," Dagostino said. "She's one of the best middles in the state of Florida."

Young's presence in the middle is important for the Bucs' success. One of the county's top recruits as a junior, Young leads the team in kill percentage (53.2) and is second in blocks (30).

"I knew how to hit from outside, but I know now I have a bigger responsibility now in passing and making sure I was there for the block, but the transition wasn't bad at all," Young said.

• • •

Parker's development is rooted in repetition — hitting ball after ball during practice to find the perfect arm swing.

"It's the main thing you do," the 5-foot-10 Parker said. "The technique is the biggest thing. Now it's just more tweaking things, but now I pretty much have an entirely different arm swing than I used to."

Dagostino entrusts the 5-foot-10 Parker with 25 to 30 hits a game. She is second on the team with 86 kills (at a 35.2 percentage). She also leads the team with a 96.7 serve percentage and is tied for second with 16 aces.

"She's really come into her own," Dagostino said. "She hits a hard ball and she gets the absolute most out of her physical ability. She doesn't jump as high, contacts the ball at a high level that there aren't a lot of blocks that give her trouble."

>>FAST FACTS

Berkeley Premier

When/where: Pool play begins Friday at 3 p.m.; bracket play begins Saturday at 8 a.m. Berkeley Prep gymnasiums

Tickets: $5 each. Children under 10 get in free.

The teams

Berkeley Prep (10-0): Young team has already passed tests against Tampa Prep, Venice and Buchholz; ranked 42nd nationally.

Duluth (Ga.) Northview (22-2): The Titans, who won the Georgia AAAAA state championship in 2005 and '07, just had a 43-game win streak snapped.

Gainesville Buchholz (7-1): Defending 6A champ, beat Durant for the state title last year. Lone loss this year is to Berkeley.

Louisville (Ky.) Mercy (15-1): Won this tournament the past three years and again is one of the favorites. Is 15-1 and ranked 10th in the nation.

Orlando Lake Highland Prep (9-1): Four-time Class 3A state champ just suffered first loss, which dropped it to 46th in the national rankings.

Plant (5-0): Cream of the local crop, back-to-back 5A state champ has yet to be tested. Ranked fourth in the nation by prepvolleyball.com.

Tampa Prep (5-3): The Terps, aiming for a 16th state title this year in 2A, appear to be recovered from an early-season, three-match losing streak.

Venice (7-3): 5A state power's losses were to Berkeley, Tampa Prep and Tallahassee Leon.

Berkeley's young players building volleyball team 09/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 11:19pm]

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