Beach volleyball kills Oviedo in district final, dominates regionals


photo by Alexis Madlang

The team celebrates with Alana Garcia and her partner, Anisa Mafarachisi, after winning the third set of their match against Oviedo. The team won 3-2 over in the District final and 3-0 in regionals.

It was the district final against Oviedo, and the pressure was on for senior Anisa Mafarachisi and junior Alana Garcia. During one of the most intense rallies, Garcia sprinted to save the ball after it was hit up into the trees behind the court. Mafarachisi was able to play the ball over the net and win a point. Momentum and energy picked up on the sand, and the pair secured the match, 2-1, providing the winning point for the team. 

Wednesday, April 27, the beach volleyball team took to the sand to play Oviedo in the first FHSAA sanctioned district playoff and won 3-2 after all but one pair went to three sets. Junior Brooke Stephens and freshman Brielle Mullen won their match 2-0, with over 10 points in both sets. 

“It’s a really cool opportunity that my senior year beach volleyball is finally a varsity sport, and that we get the chance to make history and possibly be part of the first teams to go to a beach volleyball state championship,” senior Hope Lusher said. 

It was a match between two of the best teams in Central Florida, but only one could continue to regionals and potentially become the first ever state winners in high school beach volleyball history. Running on an undefeated 13-0 record, expectations on intensity for the game were high, especially considering the hometown rivalry.

“Every call is reviewed, parents argue, players argue, and we really battle it out,” junior Sabrina Valentin said. “[Having] team chemistry and [playing] with integrity and pride helped us beat them not only in finals, but also during the regular season.”

With a goal of a state title, the team had to mentally prepare before the game. Head coach Juanita Hitt wanted to emphasize that working for each other was the most important step in success. 

“When you go into the military, you go to battle with a buddy, and they are someone that keeps you accountable. You do everything with them and they fight for you,” Hitt said. “That’s what I wanted them to do today. I wanted their partner to be their battle buddy. They fought for each other and they did a great job.”

The team took advantage of their passion and growth over the whole season, allowing them to not only win districts, but regionals with ease. Monday, May 2, they defeated Montverde Academy 3-0. Pairs five, four and three won all their matches 2-0 in the overall win. 

“In the beginning of the season we were a little quiet and timid when playing with our partner, but now we are loud in calling the ball and know how to tell our partners where to place the ball,” senior Sophia Willis said. “It has made us more comfortable and a stronger team overall.”

The next stop is the two-day state tournament, May 6-7, in Tallahassee. The team would have to win two matches a day and four matches total to win a title. The first match is against Orangewood Christian from Maitland.

“I think that we have the potential to get far but we will need to work very hard for it,” sophomore Abby Mas said. “Right now we are taking it one game at a time.”