Friday, April 27, 2018
Sports

Volleyball: Berkeley Prep falls to top-ranked foe in host tournament

TAMPA — It wasn't that Berkeley Prep played poorly in Saturday's final of the Berkeley Premier.

The Bucs, in fact, played pretty well.

The trouble was that their final opponent, Georgia's Walton High, is ranked the No. 1 volleyball team in the country by MaxPreps.

Turns out that Walton High (16-0 without a loss of a game in any match) was much taller, quicker and more polished than any team the Bucs have seen this year, or for that matter, in many years.

That fact made Saturday's end result — a 25-16, 25-18 Walton victory — a little easier to swallow, and in some ways, encouraging.

"I think we learned a lot from playing (Walton)," Berkeley Prep coach Mackenzie Dagostino said. "(Walton) challenged us in ways that we've never been challenged before. Now we can work on things that we haven't been able to work on to this point."

For instance: Hitting against a taller and more disciplined block.

"There are things you can teach players to combat that type of block," Dagostino said. "You can tell them how to do it in practice, but until they play against it, like they did today, it's tough to fully grasp. Now I think they get it."

Now even experienced Bucs' players — including 6-foot-4 Amanda Phegley and 5-9 Jenna Hampton, who have both committed to play at powerhouse Penn State — can add this experience to their resumes.

"(Walton) did everything at a level that we haven't seen," Dagostino said. "(Walton) really has no weakness, so this was a great experience for all of our players. I can guarantee you that everyone of our players will get better after playing (Walton)."

In fairness to Berkeley Prep (6-1), Hurricane Irma did Dagostino, who was without power at her house for six days, and her players, without a practice or a game for more than a week, no favors.

"It's been a stressful week and a busy couple of days (five matches over two days in the tournament), so we looked pretty tired in the first game (of Saturday's final)," Dagostino said. "But I'm proud of the way we kept playing hard. The effort was there."

Because of Hurricane Irma, the tournament lost several teams (including highly-ranked Plant), which were not allowed to play after certain counties prohibited their public schools from playing over the weekend. A few private schools took the public school spots, but still the original 16-team field fell two teams short.

Berkeley Prep continues to look like a heavy favorite in the race for Florida's Class 5A state title.

The Bucs' optimism stems partly from solid Premier victories over perennial state powerhouses Tallahassee Leon (25-22, 25-17) and Orlando Bishop Moore (25-21, 25-21).

Comments
After first round, here are 10 names to watch for Bucs at No. 38

After first round, here are 10 names to watch for Bucs at No. 38

The first round of the NFL draft is complete, and the Bucs held off on trading back up, leaving them with three second-round picks Friday night.Their own pick is No. 38 — the sixth pick of the second round — and they added two more —...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

PLANT CITY — Plant City softball coach Ashley Bullion is 4-for-4 after Thursday night.Four years at the helm, four district titles.The latest championship came in a 4-1 victory over East Bay in the Class 8A, District 6 final, a victory highligh...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Softball: Recent momentum carries Mitchell past Sunlake

LAND O' LAKES — Despite being on the wrong end of two lopsided outcomes to Sunlake during the regular season, recent events gave Mitchell hope in its Class 7A-10 district final rematch with the Seahawks.Just two days prior, the Mustangs be...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Robinson makes it 10 straight wins vs. Jefferson

TAMPA — For the Robinson softball team, the perfect 10 was complete.The top-seeded Knights defeated No. 2 Jefferson for the 10th consecutive time Thursday and claimed their fifth district championship in a row, a 12-2 five-inning victory in the...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Itís April, so Chamberlain is winning

TAMPA — Coach Bob Diez and his Chamberlain Chiefs have always believed in this motto: "Be good in April."This is their season.The Chiefs added another Class 7A-8 district title Thursday against Gaither with a 7-0 victory.With the win, the ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: East Lake is aggressive from the start

TARPON SPRINGS — If strong pitching and defense are the bellwethers of a deep playoff run, consider East Lake ready.Playing second seed Pinellas Park on Thursday night for the Class 8A-7 title, the host Eagles (22-3) used that philosophy to mak...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

TAMPA — The selection of Vita Vea is a move the Bucs made for the present and the future. While Gerald McCoy remains a dominant defensive tackle, he turned 30 in February and is due to make $12.3 million this season and $13 million in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

Lakewood High alumnus and former Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn was drafted No. 23 overall Thursday by the Patriots.Wynn becomes one of the highest drafted offensive linemen in Tampa Bay history and the first Pinellas County player to go in th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

TAMPA — Vita Vea loves to tell the story about the trip he took to French Polynesia with some University of Washington students and the group coming upon some enormous rocks."So over there, their strongman competition is they have a tradition w...
Updated: 4 hours ago