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Final doesn't go Berkeley Prep's way

By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 17, 2002


LAKELAND -- Perhaps Berkeley Prep's first clue that its state championship match wasn't exactly going to go its way was when Gainesville P.K. Yonge's Elyse Cusack dove in front of a Janet Okogbaa spike and deflected it back across the net -- with her elbow -- for a point.

LAKELAND -- Perhaps Berkeley Prep's first clue that its state championship match wasn't exactly going to go its way was when Gainesville P.K. Yonge's Elyse Cusack dove in front of a Janet Okogbaa spike and deflected it back across the net -- with her elbow -- for a point.

Or maybe when Buccaneers setter Eden Ramos' sets were a little too close to the net. Or when a couple of miscommunications resulted in Blue Wave points and Berkeley collisions.

No matter which clue you chose to observe, they all pointed to the same result: a 9-15, 15-9, 15-9 P.K. Yonge victory. The loss marked the third time in 12 championship match appearances that Berkeley was forced to three games and only the second time Berkeley has failed to win a state title after reaching the final.

"I don't think we made any gross mistakes but I could tell the ball control wasn't anywhere near as good as it should have been," Bucs coach Randy Dagostino said. "We were making (Ramos) work way too hard. You have to be able to move the ball around and keep them on defense. We didn't do that well today."

Part of that was due to the hitting of P.K. Yonge's Marcie Hampton. The 6-foot-1 junior entered the match with 321 kills and came within two of her season high with 18. Hampton had 10 kills and seven digs in the final game, shouldering much of the responsibility in taking the Blue Wave to the win.

"I think a lot of teams focus so much on (Hampton) because she is one of the best in the country," Dagostino said. "That leaves the rest one-on-one with other people which we did by design and those other players came through tonight."

First-year P.K. Yonge coach Laurie Obreza said her team changed midway through the first game, settling down enough to be able to concentrate on winning the Blue Waves' second title in three years.

"We got past the nervousness and started to be very effective passing the ball," Obreza said. "Those first 10 points were probably the worst we've played this season. After that it was probably the best match we've played."

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