Girls volleyball captures district title


photo by Jacob Arthur

In a historic season led by second year head coach Juanita Hitt, the girls volleyball team won the district championship for the first time and earned a win in a first ever regional home game.

The road to a championship was anything but easy for the team. Having to go through district opponent Lake Nona for the district title was a true test.

“We came into their district that they had just won,” senior middle Brianna Baez said. “They were out to protect their title, and all year we were the top two teams in the district.”

The district finals did not start as planned, however. After a first set loss to Lake Nona (25-20), the team not only was a set down, but were down a coach as well. Hitt was in the hospital during the district game, unable to coach the team.

“That gave us motivation to win for coach. We wanted to get that district championship for her and make history for her,” senior libero Lauren Basen said. “Losing the first set just gave us even more motivation to win.”

The team won back-to-back close sets, 26-24 and 25-21, followed by a 25-18 win to take the match 3-1.

“The district win was very emotional for all of us, we faced a lot of adversity and we had several off-court issues that were going on,” Hitt said. “For us to win the district championship was one we will never forget. It was a huge win for every single one of us.”

After district finals Hitt returned, and the team moved on to face Lake Minneola at home for the regional quarterfinals. The team advanced easily winning the match 3-1 with sets of: 25-9, 25-16, 23-25 and 25-14.

After that win, the team was rewarded with a second home game against Lake Nona again. After winning the first set 25-20, the team dropped the next three sets to lose the match 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 25-22). The loss ended the team’s season.

“The loss obviously hurt and once it soaked in, it stung for a little while,” Basen said. “It wasn’t exactly how we wanted to the season to end.”

Even with the loss, the team is still proud of the season. Beating Oviedo was a first and they did it twice. That, along with the school’s first district title, regional win and the fact that it was the first season in a new district (7-0 record), and the season looks more groundbreaking than disappointing.

However, for the seniors, the loss meant more than just the end of a season, it meant the end of their high school volleyball careers.

“I was just sad, not so much because we lost, but because I realized I’m never going to play on this court again,” Baez said. “I think that was the hard part because we have all grown up playing together but it will never happen again.”

vball statsOn the flip side, the rest of the team still has time left, so they are already looking ahead. This includes freshman hitters Leandra Mangual and Morgan Romano who were asked to play big roles in the team’s season, accounting for 133 and 130 kills on the season, respectively.

“This year was a great start to my career. I have learned to be a team player, and I have learned a lot from the very talented players on our team,” Romano said. “I am extremely excited and looking forward to the next three years, and hopefully a state title before my senior year.”

In just her second year as coach, Hitt has already made history for the team.

“She’s an outstanding coach, very competitive and is always out there to win. She also has such a good connection with us and is always understanding and willing to listen. She does what’s best for the team,” junior opposite Annemarie Watson said.

Hitt believes in the team they have moving forward, as the teams get better each year she coaches.

“I couldn’t be happier with the underclassmen this year. They really stepped into this program and contributed a ton.  I am very confident with our core players returning and new players that are coming in to see some great things come out of this program,” Hitt said.