Mater Dei volleyball star Natalie Berty is this year’s OC Varsity Athlete of the Year

By Jenelyn Russo     7/8/2019

The accolades and awards continue to roll in for girls volleyball standout and recent Mater Dei High School graduate Natalie Berty, who is capping off an extraordinary high school career. 

The Stanford-bound outside hitter was recognized with a pair of awards at the Orange County Register 2019 OC Varsity Athlete & Coach of the Year Awards presented by Hoag Orthopedic Institute and held earlier this month at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin. 

The annual event honors the best in high school athletics, recognizing both athletes and coaches across the county in their respective sports. NFL Pro Bowler and former punter and wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals Pat McInally spoke to those in attendance. The Orange County native and Villa Park High School graduate applauded the award winners on their accomplishments and reminded them that they already know what it takes to achieve success. 

Making two trips to the stage that night, Berty was first called up by OC Varsity writer Dan Albano to receive the 2019 Girls Volleyball Athlete of the Year Award. She then made a second trip up as she was named the 2019 Trinity League Athlete of the Year. 

The award presented annually by the Diocese of Orange is selected by the OC Register’s sports writers and editors and recognizes the Trinity League athlete who has made significant achievements in athletics, academics and community service. Mike Schabert, Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools and Bob Gibson, host of Catholic Sports View, presented Berty with the Award. 

“She had a knack for coming up big when her team needed her the most,” said Gibson of Berty. The 6-foot-3 player had 532 kills and 323 digs on her way to helping lead the Monarchs to the CIF-SS Division 1 and CIF Open State championships. Berty was also named the Gatorade State Player of the Year as well as the National Player of the Year. 

“It really is an honor because there are so many great athletes, even from my school,” said Berty of the Trinity League Award. “It’s really an honor to be recognized.” 

Mater Dei girls volleyball head coach Dan O’Dell said that Berty approached her Monarch playing career with a positive and coachable attitude. 

“She’s been everything you could ask for,” said O’Dell. “Her overall personality and approach to life—in volleyball, academics and social relationships—is second to none. Every day at practice she would show up with a smile and say how much she enjoys practicing. 

“And it’s not even the competition that does it for her,” continued O’Dell. “It’s getting to play a sport every day with her friends. She’s genuinely a happy person and enjoys everything she’s doing. You can see that in how she plays.” 

Having come up short on their bid to win the state title last year, Berty and her teammates made it a goal to come back stronger this year and take the crown, which they did, sweeping Central High School of Fresno last November to win the school’s first CIF State championship in girls volleyball. Berty had nine kills and three aces in the match. 

“It was a really great way to end my high school career because I love my team so much,” said Berty. “We’re all super close. It was a great way for us to complete our unfinished business.” 

The coaching staff leaned on Berty throughout their tough schedule last fall for her skill and leadership.  

“She had to shoulder the burden of being the go-to hitter, which is great for a lot of kids want to do that, but not a lot of kids are capable of doing what she did,” said O’Dell. “When we needed a momentum shifting play, we would look to her to be the player to make that. In game after game, she was the one we counted on to lead the team. Having a player like that is crucial to any successful team, and the fact that we had her was a large part of that success.” 

Berty is as serious about academics as she is athletics, maintaining a 4.0 in the classroom. Being a Monarch runs deep in her family, as her grandmother was a teacher at Mater Dei, her father and aunt attended the school and her younger brother is a rising sophomore. She hasn’t settled on a major just yet, but as she heads to Stanford in the fall, she is excited to compete for her dream school as they defend their NCAA women’s volleyball title. 

“I’m looking forward to being academically and athletically challenged,” said Berty. “I’m looking forward to great training, great coaching and the chance to play along with some amazing athletes. Our academics at Mater Dei have helped prepare me, and my coach and all the training I received have prepared me well. I’m really excited for my next step.”