Monsignor Pace

Monsignor Pace volleyball stars Bianca Toyos, Christina Lujan are two of a kind

 

Juniors and best friends Bianca Toyos and Christina Lujan are the heart and soul of the Monsignor Pace volleyball team.

Special to The Miami Herald

If the idea is for a setter and a hitter to be in sync, Monsignor Pace has a pair of players who have been best friends and volleyball teammates for the past five years.

And, by the way, they were born on the same day in the same year — Dec. 21, 1995.

They’re not quite twins, but sometimes it feels that way for juniors Bianca Toyos and Christina Lujan.

“We think the same way and have a lot of the same ideas,” Toyos said. “There are times when she says something, and I’m like, ‘I was about to say the same thing.’ ”

Toyos, a 5-5 setter, is the older of the two — by one hour and 13 minutes. She has a 3.6 grade-point average, wants to study physical therapy or nutrition and is the more “hyper” of the two Sagittarians.

Lujan, a 5-6 outside hitter, is calmer but equally as sharp in the classroom, sporting a 3.5 GPA.

She wants to study education or psychology and would love to share a university with Toyos.

“We are really aiming to attend the same college, especially if we can play volleyball — even if it is Division II or Division III,” Lujan said.

Pace coach Markia Brown-Seetal said she taught Lujan to jump serve on the first day of practice as a freshman. Lujan took to the coaching quickly and became an immediate varsity starter.

Pace isn’t a big team — no Spartans player is taller than 5-10 — but Lujan epitomizes their spirit.

“She has no fear of being blocked,” Brown-Seetal said. “She makes adjustments and is becoming a smart player.”

Toyos, who convinced Lujan to try out for volleyball while they were in middle school, broke her collarbone this past summer while doing handstands.

“That’s one of life’s lessons she had to learn,” the coach said.

Toyos was out two months and just recently returned to full health. Brown-Seetal, though, said Toyos is still a bit “timid” about diving on her once-injured left shoulder.

The key for Toyos, her coach said, is her ability to find the hot hitters, whether that’s Lujan or Pace’s other standout, Janine Wettergren, a highly skilled swimmer who spent this past December to August in Germany working on the latter sport.

Lujan said her birthday bond with Toyos spills over to the court.

“I trust and depend on her on the court,” Lujan said, “and she can rely on me to get the point, even if it’s a bad set, and I have to adjust. We have great chemistry that you can’t build overnight. It takes years.”

That chemistry was strengthened this past summer, when they played club ball together for the first time.

“Communication is so important in volleyball,” Toyos said. “Because we’re the best of friends, we’re able to talk to each other, even when the game is tight. I tell her, ‘Just tell me what you need, and I will set you up.’ ”

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