TAMPA — At the age of 4, Kyle Dagostino was known to draw large crowds inside gymnasiums when he would pepper, a warm-up drill when two people hit a volleyball back and forth before a match, with high school varsity players more than twice his size.
By 12, Dagostino was playing with the world’s top youths, many of whom were two years older, as a member of the USA Youth Boys Volleyball National Team.
This past November, he signed a national letter of intent to play for Stanford University’s men’s volleyball team, currently the No. 3 ranked team in the country, and in the process, becoming the first male athlete from the Tampa area to sign a Division I volleyball scholarship. He chose Stanford from a pool of schools that included Loyola Chicago, the No.1 ranked team in the nation, No. 2 Pepperdine, No. 4 Brigham Young and UCLA.
Before he graduates this summer from Berkeley Prep, where he’s played six years on its varsity boys volleyball team, the first high school team assembled in Hillsborough County, he hopes to win the county’s first boys volleyball state title.
“If we were able to win a state title before I graduate, that would really be the exclamation point,” Dagostino said.
Thursday night at 6 p.m., Berkeley Prep will host Tampa Bay HEAT in the District 3 championship. A single class sport, only the district champion advances to the state finals play-in match. Berkeley Prep defeated Tampa Bay HEAT, the only other team in its district, 3-1, earlier this season.
“I think our best chance is this year,” Dagostino said. “I think we have the best team, overall, that we’ve ever had. We had the best skilled players my sophomore year, but although a lot of our guys don’t play club, we’ve really come together as a team and learned how to play together and do our own roles and fill the pieces where they need to be filled.”
The son of Hall of Fame girls volleyball coach Randy Dagostino, who guided Berkeley Prep to 15 state titles while accumulating over 800 wins, and whose older sister, Mackenzie, currently plays at the University of Florida, the younger Dagostino seemed destined to achieve volleyball greatness.
“Extremely proud, but not really surprised,” said Randy Dagostino. “He’s been a special talent for a long, long time. Even before six or seventh grade, his ability to control a volleyball was ridiculous.”
This past summer, Dagostino, who will be a libero in college, helped USA’s Youth National Team place 16th in an international tournament in Mexico.
“The Olympics is definitely my goal and the national team,” he said. “I think that’s why I’m in the USA pipelines, progressing over the years and make that final step and eventually make the national team.”
Said his father: “That has been his dream ever since he watched volleyball in the Olympics when he was 6-years-old. He absolutely loves this sport and loves the idea of playing this sport and representing the United States.”
Randy Dagostino retired as the school’s girls coach years ago, but remained head coach of the boys volleyball program, which he started. This season, however, will be his last.
“I wouldn’t know this game nearly as much as I do if not for him,” Kyle Dagostino said of playing for his father. “Just being in the gym, whether he’s coaching me or not, I could be there listening to what he has to say and seeing how he interacts with people. If he wasn’t my coach or if he wasn’t there for me, I wouldn’t be nearly what I am now or know the game as well as I do.”