With the start of the 2012 season a little over a month away, two future Maryland volleyball players concluded their club careers Sunday in the gold medal match of the 18 Open Division at the 2012 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
Mackenzie Dagostino's Tampa Bay 18 Black squared off against Amy Dion's Sky High 18 Black in the title match at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. After winning an opening set which featured an exchange of points by both teams, Dagostino's squad held off a late second-set rally by Sky High to win the title.
The two-set victory capped an exceptional tournament for Dagostino's team. In 10 matches, Tampa Bay 18 Black won 20 of 21 sets and won its final seven matches in straight sets.
"I couldn't imagine a better way to end this chapter of my life," said Dagostino. "First, helping Berkeley [Prep] win its 15th women's state volleyball championship, and then to go on to win two consecutive qualifiers in club -- the 23 and under women's division in the Puerto Rican National Tournament and the 18 open national championship -- was icing on the cake."
Dion and Sky High turned in an impressive performance despite dropping the championship match. Sky High entered the final with an 8-2 record, having won 18 of 25 sets. While the final did not go according to plan for Dion and Sky High, playing against her future teammate and good friend was a special experience.
"It was awesome playing Mackenzie," said Dion. "She's already a close friend of mine and to represent Maryland like that, having two future Terps playing for a title, really shows the type of players Coach is recruiting and where he is taking the program. If one team had to win the championship other than my own, I'm glad it was Mackenzie's."
And for Mackenzie, it was definitely not easy playing against one of the best liberos in the country. "This is the third time this year I have had the opportunity to face Amy," said Dagostino. "As always, it is a competitive match filled with long rallies. No matter where I seem to set the ball -- pin to pin or in the middle -- Amy always finds a way to pop the ball up and continue the rally for her team."
With the Terps set to begin practice for the 2012 season on Wednesday, Aug. 8, head coach Tim Horsmon is proud of what the duo accomplished this summer and is looking forward to having them in a Terp uniform this fall.
"It is a great accomplishment for both Mackenzie and Amy to have the kind of club seasons they had culminating in Columbus and playing for a national championship," said Horsmon. "Both are two of the best at their positions nationally and this success is nothing new."We're really excited for these two to get to College Park, as well as the rest of our highly touted recruiting class. The make-up of the returning players and the incoming freshmen make for an exciting future for Maryland volleyball.