LAKELAND - Berkeley Prep sat on it for a year. It lived with the thought and embarass ment of losing in the state final to P.K. Yonge. If you're a Buccaneer, that's the kind of thing that sends you into the next season with more to prove, especially when it was a match you thought you should have won.
Now it's P.K. Yonge's turn to feel a little pain.
Berkeley Prep put on a remarkable display of defense and hit the Blue Wave in all the right places, running off with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-18 victory in the state championship match Saturday. The title is the 12th for Berkeley, bringing the Bucs closer to Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons (17) and Tampa Prep (14) in the all-time column. More importantly, it snapped a Bucs championship drought dating to 1999, the longest stretch without a title. Even more important than that, though, was who it came against.
"Every day at practice we talked about losing last year," said setter Eden Ramos, among two captains who approached coach Randy Dagostino about incorporating a blue wave in T-shirts earlier this season as a gentle reminder of the 9-15, 15-9, 15-9 loss last November.
Cally Stohlbach said: "We wanted people to know that volleyball at Berkeley Prep is as good as it ever was."
Dagostino says it may be better. The 20-year coach, who won his 600th game this season, said this team improved more than any other he's guided. A 30-2 record, No.1 ranking in Class 2A and No.26 standing nationally (according to prepvolleyball.com) would seem to back him up.
So would the commments from P.K. Yonge coach Perry McDonald. "They flat out brought their "A' game," McDonald said. "They were definitely the state champions tonight. There is no room to imagine any other scenario the way they played."
The key for Berkeley was great blocking. That started with shutting down the Blue Wave's Marcie Hampton, who, despite recovering from a torn ACL and playing only six matches, Dagostino called "maybe the best player ever in the state." Hampton, who will attend the University of Florida next year, finished with 18 kills. Stohlbach led the Bucs with 17.