Girls’ Volleyball

Pompano Beach has beach volleyball stars in the making


Pompano Beach High School is starting to be known as the Mecca for beach volleyball players in South Florida.

Special to The Miami Herald

College coaches looking for beach volleyball players have surely circled Pompano Beach on the map.

Earlier this month, 5-10 senior Savannah Davis committed to FIU’s sand program, which will make its debut this spring.

Prior to that, Pompano Beach sent the Pellitteri sisters — sophomore Stephanie and freshman Kristina — to Florida State, where they helped the Seminoles finish third in the nation last season.

Younger sister Brittney Pellitteri, a 5-9 junior at Pompano Beach, will likely join a college sand program in a couple of years, although she has yet to pick a school.

Davis, who rejected offers from Florida State, Tulane, Stetson, Georgia State and others, said she is proud of Pompano Beach’s role in the evolution of sand volleyball as a college sport.

“It’s awesome,” said Davis, who is interested in studying marine biology. “And after watching beach volleyball in the Olympics, I think more girls will be inspired to play.”

As for the indoor season, Pompano Beach is hoping to improve on last year’s performance, when the team finished 22-4 and advanced to the Class 5A regional semifinals.

Coach William Strachan is touting some of his younger players, including 5-11 sophomore Casey Calhoun and 5-4 freshman Cori Smothers.

In this preseason, Pompano Beach beat top teams such as Cardinal Gibbons and Palmer Trinity.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” Davis said. “We were skeptical last year because we had lost five starters. But after we beat Gibbons and Palmer, we feel we are off to a great start.”

Freshmen phenoms

West Broward coach Jill Smitherman said she is thrilled about her two freshmen starters, 5-9 setter Cassidy Bonito and 5-8 hitter Samanta Arenas.

Both have older sisters who have played varsity volleyball and thus have grown up with the game.

“Cassidy has great court awareness and is emerging as a leader,” Smitherman said. “Samanta has an all-around game and just needs more consistency. But when she connects, it’s exciting.”

Back from injury

Western coach Barry Sikorski is hoping that standout Gabi Matos, a 5-8 senior, can come back strong from a serious knee injury sustained during the club season in February.

Because of complications, Matos didn’t have surgery until April, and Sikorski said she is now “95 percent” ready.

On the mend

Sagemont’s Natalie Cooper, a 5-11 senior middle blocker, tore two tendons in her right shoulder two years ago and then reinjured it last season diving into the stands for a ball.

Coach Shane Marcey said Cooper still feels some pain but added that this is the healthiest she has been in two years.

Back in the game

Ashley Navarette, considered West Broward High’s best player, has returned after missing last season because of a shoulder injury.

The 5-8 senior outside hitter started as a freshman and sophomore before getting injured.

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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