TAMPA — After 33 years, Berkeley Prep coach Randy Dagostino couldn’t have found a better ending.
He coached the girls volleyball team during what seemed like the inception of high school girls volleyball. Then came boys volleyball. He took over the program and, between the two, he won 16 state championships with the girls and will be leaving Berkley Prep with his first boys state championship after his Bucs shocked Lyman in the state championship in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago.
It was not only Dagostino who said goodbye to Berkeley Prep, but his son also played his last game for the Bucs. He’ll be a freshman at Stanford next season. Dagostino’s daughter, Mackenzie, signed first with the University of Maryland, then transferred to the University of Florida.
The Bucs were serious underdogs going into the championship game against Lyman, which had won 59 straight before the title game. The teams split the first two sets and Berkeley Prep won the next two, 25-23, 25-23, to take the title just a week after winning its first district title. Boys volleyball is rare in the Tampa Bay area and the Bucs were the first team to form in Hillsborough County. They were also the first team to ever represent the West Coast of Florida at the state championship.
Dagostino has been through it all at Berkeley.
“It has been a lot of fun and I just love these kids,” Dagostino said of the boys team. “We play for respect and we play the right way.”
It was a rough go from the start when Berkeley Prep made it to the semis. First they had to simply make it to the states and ran into Orlando Bishop Moore, a team with more experience in boys volleyball, and a lot more tradition. The Bucs entered the match already having lost seven matches and knew that they would have to get past the tough Orlando- area teams to make it anywhere.
“They were going to be tough, but our guys have a lot of character,” Dagostino said.
The Bucs beat Bishop Moore after dropping the first set, then moved on to Fort Lauderdale. After that, the Bucs had to battle through two matches to meet with Lyman and its winning streak.
With his final match of his illustrious career on the line, his son, Kyle, had 26 kills and six aces. Kyle had the ace that won the game and sent Dagostino out on top after so many years.
“What a way to go out,” he said. “On top. It’s been great.”