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Powerful Olympic Heights rallies to win Berkeley title

Durant leads area teams with a third-place finish while host Berkeley Prep places sixth.


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000

TAMPA -- Boca Raton Olympic Heights came to the Berkeley Prep Premier Volleyball Tournament looking for some competition, and it got all it could handle in Saturday's final against Orlando Bishop Moore.

Down 7-5 in the third and deciding game against the defending Class 3A state champion Hornets, Olympic Heights rallied to win 16-14 in a thriller, giving it a 15-10, 12-15, 16-14 championship victory.

Tournament MVP Michelle Piantadosi, the Lions' only senior, was ecstatic afterward. "These girls are all like my little sisters, and we all work hard together," she said. "We never had a doubt when we were down. We just fought to the end."

Durant showed it is still one of the top teams in the state with a third-place finish. The Cougars (15-3) avenged an earlier loss to Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.) in pool play with a three-game win over the Trailblazers in the consolation final.

Durant's Jenna Jordan was named to the All-Tournament team.

Durango, which won the Nevada state title in 1997, proved to be a thorn in the side of many Hillsborough teams. The Blazers beat Tampa Prep and Durant in pool play, then topped Berkeley Prep 15-10, 12-15, 15-8 in the quarterfinals.

Durango even gave Olympic Heights a scare in the semifinals. The Lions topped Durango 15-7 in the first game, but the Blazers came back for a 15-9 win in the second.

In the third game, Heights got some key blocks and kills from Piantadosi to rally for a 15-10 win. Julia Caner was also superb in the match, with three straight kills at one point in the third game. Both were named to the All-Tournament team.

In the Gold bracket quarterfinals, Durant rallied from a one-game deficit to hand Sarasota Cardinal Mooney its first loss of the season 13-15, 16-14, 15-11.

"That was the most exciting match I ever played in," Cougars outside hitter Katie Kilfoile said.

But the win may have left the defending Class 5A state champion Cougars emotionally drained. They came out flat against Orlando Bishop Moore and dropped the first game 15-1.

Behind four straight service winners from Kilfoile, the Cougars briefly took the lead in the second match 4-2, but in the end, they lost 16-14 to end up in the consolation final.

Host Berkeley Prep ended its tournament on a sour note with a 15-7, 15-3 loss to Sweet Home (Amherst, N.Y.) to finish in sixth place. However, Bucs setter Lennie Stern was named to the All-Tournament team.

Tampa Prep (15-5) also had a rough tournament, finishing in 13th place after a loss to Venice. Sickles finished 16th.

With its Premier victory, Olympic Heights (18-0) extended its winning streak to 59 games, and appears poised for a sixth consecutive state title run.

First, however, it is likely to face several of these teams again next weekend at the Tampa Prep Invitational.

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