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Bucs revel in 15th title

KISSIMMEE — Berkeley Prep's 15th state volleyball championship was about more than just a number.

It was about more than setting a new standard for the sport in the Tampa Bay area. It was about a fitting end to the high school careers of the program's best two players. It was about executing a team effort to beat one of the nation's best teams.

And for Berkeley coach Randy Dagostino, in his 28th year, it was about rebounding.

A day after Dagostino said the Buccaneers "laid an egg" in a four-game Class 4A state semifinal win, Berkeley Prep returned to Silver Spurs arena Thursday to finish their mission.

The Buccaneers (30-2), ranked No. 6 in the nation by MaxPreps, ended the season with their third straight state championship, beating MaxPreps No. 8 Orlando Bishop Moore 25-15, 25-18, 15-25, 25-16.

It was the program's 15th state crown, tying Tampa Prep for the most in bay area history.

"They were so confident as a group that they want to do much better," said Dagostino, wearing a pink team T-shirt with No. 15 on the front. "I just had a very, very good feeling about tonight."

It marked the third title for seniors Jordan Burgess (team-high 15 kills and 13 digs) and Mackenzie Dagostino (30 assists, 13 kills, eight digs and eight blocks), who ended their Berkeley careers as the school's leaders in kills and assists, respectively.

"This was business," said Mackenzie Dagostino, who will play at Maryland next year. "This is what we worked for. It was a news flash (Wednesday). If we had played like that today, Bishop Moore would have had us.

"We knew we had to step our game up. And we had a flash of that in the third set when we just let points go. In a match like this you can't ever take a point off."

Playing in front of a pro-Bishop Moore crowd, Berkeley got perhaps its most complete team effort when it needed it the most. Junior middle blocker Jessica Silva's eight blocks took Bishop Moore's top hitter, junior Lindsey Owens, out of her game. Senior Katie O'Drobinak had 13 digs and three service aces.

The Buccaneers — who earned their 59th straight win against in-state competition — grabbed momentum early, taking 13 of the opening game's final 14 points. And despite a hiccup in the third, Berkeley ran out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth and never looked back.

On the last point of the match, Burgess, a Stanford recruit, stepped behind the serving line and nostalgia hit her.

"I thought to myself that this is the last point I will ever play in a Berkeley uniform," she said. "I got a little emotional."

Burgess' serve then shot through the Bishop Moore defense for an ace, and the Berkeley players fell to their knees in celebration.

"Hopefully, we set a precedent for what's to come next," said Burgess. "Hopefully we can get a fourth straight championship next year. That's what I'm hoping for. I know I'll be following."

Bucs revel in 15th title 11/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2011 12:22am]
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