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."
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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.
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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."