Girls’ volleyball programs from Miami still don’t get the recognition they deserve, according to Westminster Christian coach Julie Doan.
But with every determined dig and every scintillating spike, the respect is coming, and that was in evidence last weekend in Tampa.
Westminster, one of 16 elite teams invited to the Berkeley Premier tournament, wasn’t seeded very high at No. 14 but exceeded those expectations by finishing fifth and winning the silver bracket.
Ransom Everglades got even less respect coming in — the Raiders were seeded 15th — but defeated three defending state champions, including the host school.
Orlando’s Bishop Moore won the tournament.
Westminster went 4-1, including a win over four-time defending state champion Orlando First Academy.
But in a sign that respect for Miami volleyball is still lacking, Westminster star Sylvia Hernandez did not make the 13-player all-tournament team.
“I was shocked Sylvia didn’t make it,” Doan said of her 5-11 junior. “There were some good players there and some bigger girls, but there was nobody at that tournament as good as Sylvia.”
Ransom coach Roger Peluso is among the first to credit Hernandez and her team.
“Westminster is the team to beat in Miami,” he said.
In fact, Ransom would have done even better than seventh place if not for a 25-8, 25-12 loss to Westminster. Other than that match, Ransom lost only to Kentucky power Mercy Academy.
On the positive side, Ransom beat host Berkeley Prep, Tallahassee Leon and Atlanta Walton.
Peluso said he and his players were “shocked” by their win over Berkeley Prep. Even though the hosts lost a lot of talent to graduation and are not at last year’s level, it was still a huge name for Ransom to defeat.
“That was a milestone win for our program,” Peluso said.
Ransom senior Kathryn Trinka got some of that much-needed respect by earning a spot on the all-tournament team.
Overall, Peluso said he thought Miami volleyball did itself proud.
“When you looked at those other teams in warm-ups, you would have thought we’d get killed,” he said. “Those other teams were deeper. They all had 12 girls who could hit straight down while we have only five.
“But when you put a block in front of them, it was a different story.”
Doan said she tried to get her team entered in the 2011 Berkeley Premier tournament, but she was told there was no room. This year, the Berkeley organizers called her.
“I know they had room last year, but we hadn’t done anything yet,” said Doan, whose team went on to the state’s final four last year.
“I think we can all agree that Miami volleyball in the past was weak compared to Orlando, Tampa and Gainesville. We had something to prove at this tournament, and we did.”
• Ransom and Westminster are among the schools hosting fundraisers in the battle against breast cancer.
On Thursday, Ransom hosts Carrollton in volleyball, Carrollton and LaSalle in swimming and LaSalle in football, with all proceeds going to the Dig For Pink Foundation. Then, on Tuesday, Westminster hosts Palmer in volleyball in its “Compete For The Cure” fundraiser. WALTER VILLA
• St. Brendan d. Mater Lakes 25-20, 16-25, 25-17, 26-24: SB 7-3
Carol City vs. North Miami Beach (North Miami), 7
Southridge vs. Northwestern (Traz), 7
Booker T. Washington vs. Edison (Curtis), 7
South Miami vs. South Dade (Harris), 7
Braddock vs. Coral Park (Tropical), 7
Reagan vs. Mater Academy Charter (Milander), 7
La Salle at Ransom Everglades, 7
Columbus, Sunset vs. Coral Reef (Cutler Ridge), 3:30
Miami Beach vs. TERRA (Tamiami), 3:30
Goleman, American vs. North Miami Beach (Victory Pool), 3:30
Jackson, Booker T., Miami High, Carol City, Northwestern vs. Miami Central (Amelia Earhart), 3