Volleyball starts strong


photo by Jake Arthur

Senior Brianna Baez rises to hit the ball in a 3-0 sweep over Oviedo.

For the volleyball seniors, one win has been notoriously absent from their high school careers: a match win over Oviedo High.

In a 3-0 sweep the team beat Oviedo on Aug. 28 for the first time in school history and emotions were high.

“I knew that we had the talent and competitiveness to beat Oviedo at home,” senior captain Brianna Baez said. “We were really happy and felt accomplished because beating Oviedo was one of our team goals.”

The team started the season with a few goals: to beat Oviedo, to beat Lake Nona, to become district champions, and to make the state playoffs. The first two goals are completed with the win over Oviedo and the more recent win over district opponent Lake Nona 3-1 on Sept. 2 after a defeat in the preseason.

Lake Nona is one of seven new district opponents, as the team switched from 8A to 7A.

“We are seeing teams for the first time. It is important that we are ready to play every game because there are talented teams in this district,” outside hitter Annemarie Watson said.

Even with the new opposition, perhaps the biggest change is the influx of young talent. Freshman outside hitter Morgan Romano in particular has been vital to the offense this season. In a game against district opponent Melbourne High Romano had eight kills to lead the team to a 3-0 sweep. This success can come with a lot of pressure, but it is easier with support.

“In every game I play confident, I believe I can do my best and that I can succeed,” Romano said. “[My teammates] have all been really nice and helped me out and made me feel welcome when I came to the team.”

New faces are important, but head coach Juanita Hitt puts a lot of responsibility on the leaders on and off the court in order to keep the team dynamic balanced.

“We have done a few team bonding [activities], but I’ve really put it on the seniors to create chemistry and help the younger girls. [The seniors] do it themselves and I just help them on their way,” Hitt said. “The senior leadership has shown me that this group of girls can go pretty far.”

The first half of the season has had its moments but it also has not been without its losses. The team has a record of 10-2, with losses against Winter Springs and Seminole. Winter Springs is currently ranked number two in the state, so the loss served as a good experience.

“We had a game plan to execute major components that their team uses, but the outcome wasn’t in our favor,” Baez said. “It did help us because they’re such a high talented offensive and defensive team. [Playing them] made us play harder and made sure we were focused.”

The team’s second loss came in a back to back sequence at Seminole and the 3-1 loss surprised the team. Instead of dwelling on it though, the team is using it as motivation.

“Our team really is self-motivated but the loss at Seminole I think opened their eyes and showed them that they have to perform no matter what the situation,” Hitt said.

The team sits atop the district with a record of 5-0. With big match-ups ahead the team has to be sure to not get ahead of themselves.

“We take one game at a time. We are Hagerty and everyone pretty much wants to beat Hagerty when we step out on the court and so we have a big “X” on our back. We can’t take a team lightly no matter what their record is,” Hitt said.

Up next is a game against Liberty High on Sept. 30 and volleyball will end their regular season on Oct. 13 at Oviedo. They will also play Winter Springs again and have two more district games before the season end.

“This year we are here to make history- getting a banner hung in the gym would mean everything to us. We know we can beat anyone we play, we just have to play like Hagerty,” senior libero Lauren Basen said. “Everyone’s goal in high school volleyball is always to win states and to get a ring, but when it comes time for district play, we have to take each game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.”