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Berkeley Prep ready to take on state's best

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000


TAMPA -- This might sound strange, but Berkeley Prep's goal has never really been to win the state volleyball title.

Strange indeed, considering Berkeley Prep has won 11 state titles, including three consecutive.

"That's because we've had other goals that seem more difficult to accomplish, like winning (the Berkeley Premier) tournament, or Tampa Prep (Invitational), or doing well in some other tournaments," Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino said. "I really can't remember when we've had winning the state title as the goal we set for ourselves before the season."

This year is different. This year Berkeley Prep (12-7, No. 4 in Class 3A) made a clearly defined statement early in the season that its goal was to win the state title.

It's easy to understand when you look at who is ranked ahead of the Bucs in Class 3A: No. 1 ranked Cardinal Gibbons (10-0), No. 2 Cardinal Mooney (11-0) and No. 3 Bishop Moore (10-2).

"Those teams present a great challenge for us," Dagostino said. "And we welcome the challenge. I'm very excited about having to fight to win the state title. We're working hard to get better and the work feels good."

Berkeley is a young squad, featuring no seniors, and though it went 1-6 at a recent tournament in Las Vegas, Dagostino said the team's outlook is bright.

He added that this weekend's Berkeley Premier Tournament -- featuring 16 of the toughest prep teams anywhere -- should give a great indication of where the Bucs are. Bishop Moore is the No. 1 seed, followed by Olympic Heights (11-0, No. 1 in 6A), Tampa Prep (10-2, No. 1 in 2A), Cardinal Mooney, Berkeley, Durant (9-1, No. 2 in 6A), Gainesville (15-1, No. 3 in 5A, St. Thomas Aquinas (11-1, No. 1 in 5A), and ...

"And there really isn't a bad team in there," Dagostino said. "I have to say that it's the strongest field we've ever had for this tournament. I think it will be very, very competitive."

Play begins early Friday and ends with Saturday afternoon's final at 3:30.

"We know what we're up against," Dagostino said. "Now we'll just go do our best."

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