Volley finishes at regional finals

The team celebrates in a September game against Oviedo. Despite a 3-2 loss, the early match against a state power showed team potential.

photo by Jessie Burton

The team celebrates in a September game against Oviedo. Despite a 3-2 loss, the early match against a state power showed team potential.

Emily Cosio, Staff Reporter

It was the beginning of a postseason run: The girls varsity volleyball team hosted and won the District 6 championships on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 20, beating Harmony 3-1 in the district finals.

“We know our gym like the back of our hand and we’re so excited to host [the district game],” head coach Juanita Hitt said.

The volleyball team made history by winning consecutive district championships, but the team was only getting started.

With the district win, the team played host to two regional matches. In the first, senior Ashley Howard had six digs, 15 assists and two aces while Sydney Conley had nine kills and three blocks against Lake Howell, making an easy 3-0 win on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

This was the regional quarterfinals, and the win put the team at the same point where last season ended, but this season, the momentum carried over into a win in the regional semifinal, against East Ridge on Friday, Oct. 28.

In that game, sophomore Leandra Mangual had six kills, two aces and 16 digs while sophomore Corina DosSantos had 13 assists. They won 3-0 with close game scores of 25-18, 25-22, and 25-19.

This victory advanced the team to the regional final, a first for the program, and a milestone for Hitt and the senior leaders.

“It’s a great feeling being able to accomplish such a goal my senior year with a great team,” middle Sam Cooley said.

Although they lost regionals against Plant City, Hitt is still very proud of the progress the team has made.

“I knew we were ready for championships and to make history,” Hitt said.

Making it to the top would not have been possible without the hard work of the team, as well as the many hours that Hitt put into winning.

“She pushes us to perform at our very best and to never give up,” Cooley said. “This makes us stronger and stronger every year.”

The team finished 15-3 in the regular season, and 18-4 overall, with all losses coming to state-ranked teams, including two losses to rival Oviedo, a team that went to the final four in 8A, while Hagerty’s run was in 7A.

“[We moved] on from those games,” Hitt said. “We have to have a short-term memory and move on to bigger, better things.”

They pushed past a couple of early-season losses and played the districts and semi-regionals with a clear mind, getting all the way to the final eight teams in the state.

“It was a lot of fun and I’m glad to have spent it with such an amazing team,” Cooley said.

Despite the successes of this season, the team is still looking ahead in the future, including new records and contending for state titles in the future.

“I think the wins this year will affect next year’s season; we are going to want to get farther than we did this year,” Conley said.