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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
TAMPA - Randy Dagostino approached the bleachers and asked one of the Berkeley Prep fans if she could get him the video tape on Bishop Verot.
Never mind that Buccaneers hadn't even started their match with Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Dagostino was looking ahead two matches to a possible region final against the No. 1 team in Class 3A.
At Berkeley Prep, that's the expectation. With 12 state titles in Dagostino's first 21 years, it's state title or bust for the Bucs, ranked No. 3 in the state. They backed up their coach's confidence by blowing past the Cougars 25-15, 25-18, 25-16 Wednesday. The Buccaneers (19-9) never trailed in the opening game, and their largest deficit was 4-0 to begin Game 3.
"(Wednesday) was a good night for us because we've been working so hard on the fundamentals of passing and digging, and I thought we had one of our best matches of the year in that part of the game," Dagostino said. "It's paying off."
The Bucs last state title came in 2003, and senior middle blocker Courtney Cohen is one of the few holdovers from that squad. She carried her team with a dominate second game, picking up six kills to put Berkeley ahead 15-7. Cohen had seven kills in Game 2 and finished with a match-high 13.
"You just get hyped up and the adrenaline is going," Cohen said. "I could see a whole lot clearer, I guess, in terms of how things were moving and how they were going to match up."
The Cougars (12-16) were no match, but for Berkeley but they could show some insight into the Vikings. Bishop Verot beat Cardinal Mooney 26-24, 25-6, 25-19 for the district championship Oct. 20. Berkeley won a preseason match against Verot, but the Cougars think it will be a tight contest.
Both teams lost in the regional finals a year ago, but Cohen and the Bucs believe they call on their championship experience if needed.