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Bucs wrap up crown on their home court

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 10, 2002


TAMPA -- The region final is a pretty big deal, but to Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino, Tuesday's region quarterfinal win over Clearwater Central Catholic was monumental.

TAMPA -- The region final is a pretty big deal, but to Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino, Tuesday's region quarterfinal win over Clearwater Central Catholic was monumental.

That win gave Berkeley homecourt advantage throughout the region tournament. And after being tripped up in the region tournament the past two seasons, Dagostino was looking for all the advantages his team could get.

Not that the Buccaneers, ranked No. 1 in in Class 2A, would need any home cooking.

Behind outstanding serving and strong net play, Berkeley Prep defeated Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 15-8, 15-7 on Saturday to win the 2A, Region 3 title and advance to the state tournament.

"We made a big deal out of hosting," said Dagostino, who guided the Bucs to three straight state championships from 1997 to '99. "This was huge for us this year. We didn't have to travel up to this point and it meant a lot for us to be playing at home."

It also meant the Buccaneers (30-3) were comfortable despite falling behind in both games.

In the opening game, Berkeley overcame a 4-2 deficit, tied the score on kills from Cally Stolbach and Janet Okogbaa and went on an 8-1 run to grab control.

Berkeley hitting errors helped a Cougar run that narrowed the lead to 12-8, but a Susanna Leffers kill helped stop the Cougars (24-8) and Stolbach ended the game with an ace.

The second game was almost a mirror of the first. The Bucs fell behind 4-2 only to charge back with a 12-2 run that sent them back to the state tournament.

"I think we played pretty loose," Dagostino said. "We really went after the ball and had some big swings.

"And we served very good. We had to. If we didn't, they would have had a lot more chances."

Leffers and Stolbach each finished with four kills and an ace. Stolbach added two blocks.

Okogbaa ended the match with three kills and Jessica Glover added three.

Berkeley Prep begins its run at another state championship Thursday at the Lakeland Center against the Region 4 winner.

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