Beach volleyball defends new home

Junior+Sydney+Smith+blocks+the+ball+during+a+match+against+Winter+Springs%2C+which+the+girls+won+5-0.+Smith+is+on+the+top-seeded+team+with+sophomore+Morgan+Romano%2C+and+the+pair+currently+undefeated+and+a+favorite+to+win+the+end-of-the-year+tournament.

photo by Nora Godikson

Junior Sydney Smith blocks the ball during a match against Winter Springs, which the girls won 5-0. Smith is on the top-seeded team with sophomore Morgan Romano, and the pair currently undefeated and a favorite to win the end-of-the-year tournament.

Alex Konvalina, Social Media Editor

After a near undefeated season, the girls beach volleyball team ended the season with a 6-1 record, only losing to Oviedo in the final match, 25-23. The girls shutout Lake Howell, Winter Springs and Lake Brantley, with a final score of 5-0 each game. They also won against Lake Mary and Lyman, 4-1.

Against Oviedo, on May 1, both teams were undefeated, but Oviedo won 3-2 after the final match ended 25-23. Sophomores Leandra Mangual and Corina Dos Santos played three sets, and ended going into extra points at the end.

“It was a tight match [against Oviedo],” head coach Juanita Hitt said. “It was definitely

disappointing, but I’m still proud of the girls for their accomplishments.”

The team did not lose on home sand this year, having a home record of 4-0. The Oviedo game started at home, but was moved to Lyman after being postponed due to implement weather. Because of this, they had to play a doubleheader at Lyman, beating four out of five of Lyman’s teams.

“We were pretty angry, but we know we did our best,” Mangual said. “We went to extra points, so we know we fought, but we definitely had that last set.”

First seed pair Morgan Romano and Sydney Smith had a record of 7-0, while second seed pair Mangual and Dos Santos went 6-1, after their one loss to Oviedo. Originally, everyone had different pairs because Hitt assigns the girls with friends at the beginning. Depending on how they do, pairs can change throughout the season for the benefit of the team.

In their first year, the girls won the Seminole Athletic Conference, but last season they finished second to Oviedo. They are hopeful to win this year.

This year, the addition of home sand courts has been an advantage. It saves time because they do not have to travel to UCF or the beach to practice anymore. It also gives them familiarity, so they know how to work well if the weather does not cooperate, and they know the size for the sand courts.

“We haven’t had to travel, and now we have the home court advantage,” senior and third seed player Cassandra Batten said. “The extra practice definitely helped us improve and we are doing much better than last year.”

The home courts provide a place for all six teams to practice at once, and allow for three scrimmages at the same time. This gives all the teams an opportunity to adequately practice for games.

Practice is once a week, but the majority of players also play club volleyball, which makes it hard to schedule a full practice with everyone there. Most players on the beach volleyball team also play indoor, but prefer beach because of the outside environment and playing with only a partner instead of a whole team.

Though there were highlights all season, the team felt their best game was against Lake Howell.

“It was hard to play against them because of their skill level,” sophomore Morgan Rhode said. “But we came out on top and we were all really proud of that.”

The two top pairs expect to win the pairs tournament taking place Monday, May 8, and Wednesday, May 10, against Winter Springs, Lake Mary and Lake Brantley.

“I hope they continue to do as well as they have been doing throughout the season, our number one and two team should definitely win the tournament,” Hitt said.

All three teams advanced to the gold round of the tournament, after hard fought matches against top players of other schools, giving them the opportunity to win the tournament.

The girls final game will be during the gold round of the pairs tournament at Lyman on May 10.

 

 

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