Five teams from Broward and Miami-Dade counties have met difficult challenges and made it to the volleyball state final four this week in Kissimmee.
Sticking around for more than a day, however, could be even tougher.
Ransom Everglades (4A), making its first trip to state since 1994, will have to knock off an undefeated team that is ranked No. 1 in the state, regardless of class.
Westminster Christian (3A) will face a team that has won four state titles in a row.
Coral Reef (8A) is making its first trip to state, and websites are predicting a quick exit for the school that opened in 1997 and has little big-match experience.
St. Thomas Aquinas (7A) and Sheridan Hills Christian (2A), which, like Westminster, lost in the 2011 state semifinals, will have its own challenges.
Here’s a look at the five South Florida teams competing for titles this week at Silver Spurs Arena:
• Friday at 4 p.m., Ransom (28-2) will face Orlando’s Bishop Moore (30-0), which is led by Virginia Tech recruit Lindsey Owens. Bishop Moore is ranked No. 1 in the state regardless of class.
Roger Peluso, Ransom’s coach since 2000, finally made it to state in his 13th year running the program.
Peluso said he credited his school for building a middle-school gym five years ago, when the current seniors were in the seventh grade.
“When we built that gym, the kids got interested in volleyball,” he said. “We added teams and coaches. It changed the whole way kids came through the program.”
Ransom has won 19 matches in a row, and its only loss to a Florida school was against Westminster Christian, a defeat the Raiders later avenged.
Chaminade coach Jason Johnson said Ransom is a “solid” team.
“They have a lot of experience, and they are real big up front,” Johnson said. “They make you rethink sometimes as a hitter going up against their block because they get their hands on a lot of balls.”
• Coral Reef (25-5) will play Winter Park (25-5) at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Unranked Coral Reef is the underdog against Winter Park, ranked 10th in the state regardless of class.
• Aquinas (22-3) will play Lakeland’s George Jenkins (28-3) at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Aquinas, which returns all six starters from last year’s team, is considered the favorite in this matchup but would be the underdog against either Venice or Gainesville Buchholz if it were to reach Wednesday’s state final.
Jenkins, which has never won a state title, is making its first trip to the final four since 1996. Aquinas won state titles in 1995 and 2004.
• Westminster (27-4), the highest ranked team in Dade or Broward, will face Orlando’s First Academy (20-8), which is seeking its fifth state title in a row, at noon Friday.
Westminster is ranked seventh in the state and has beaten First Academy twice this season. Westminster is also ranked No. 1 in the state among 3A teams.
The biggest threat to Westminster could be a potential finals matchup against Gainesville’s St. Francis, which is ranked No. 2 in 3A and ninth in the state.
If the teams play to those rankings, Westminster could become the first Miami school to win a state title in girls’ volleyball since Sunset in 1995.
• Sheridan Hills (14-7) will play Winter Garden’s Foundation Academy (26-3) at 6 p.m. Thursday. Sheridan Hills, which is led by Liz Jenkins and Leanne Tejada, is not ranked among the top-10 teams in Class 2A. Foundation is ranked sixth. The two teams in the other half of the bracket are ranked second (Lake Worth Christian) and fifth (John Paul II).
• La Salle 52, Westwood Christian 14 - LAS (1-0): Lopez 7, Noriega 2, Alfaro 2, Echevarria 2, Montoto 2, Tilman 6, De La Madriz 3, Perez 2, Berry 22, Chapoteau 4. WWC (0-1): Nicollette 4, Elizabeth 6, Haley 2, Ara 2. Three-pointers: Lopez, De La Madriz 1. Rebounds: Echevarria 8. Steals: Tilman 5, Lopez 5. Blocks: Moye 4.
• Coral Springs Charter 2, South Florida HEAT 0: Kieren Wilson goal. Matias Grunbaum goal. Nicholaus Lee shutout. CSC 1-3.
• Archbishop Curley 3, Hebrew Academy 2: Heriberto Patino 2 goals. Di-Stephano Accilien assist. Jose Calero goal.
• Late Saturday – Hillel 4, Palmer Trinity 3: Julian Ribak 2 goals. Aaron Franco goal. Albert Dichy goal.
• Mater Academy 6, Mater Lakes 0: Alexis Hogan 2 goals, assist. Elexus Martin 2 goals. Saige Griffin goal, assist. MA 7-0.
• Archbishop McCarthy 2, South Florida HEAT 0: Carissa Sanchez goal. Shannon Leighton goal. Tati Zedan/Toni Mendoza shutout. AMC 3-2.
• Palmer Trinity 8, Westwood Christian 0: Sofia Guerra 2 goals. Maria Perez-Hickman 2 goals.
• Late Saturday – Gulliver 3, Key West 0: Kai-Lin Hernandez 2 assists. Madeline Intriago goal. Ciara Keane shutout. GUL 5-0-1.
Class 8A state semifinal at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee: Coral Reef vs. Winter Park, 8
PRESEASON BOYS’ BASKETBALL
Coral Springs Christian vs. Hialeah (American), 6
Hialeah-Miami Lakes at American, 7:30
Coral Reef vs. Sunset (Braddock), 6
Homestead at Braddock, 7:30
IMG Academy vs. Coral Gables (Gulliver), 6
Posnack vs. Yeshiva (Miami Beach JCC), 6
Hillel vs. Hebrew Academy (Miami Beach JCC), 7:30
Greater Miami Academy at Miami Christian, 5:30
Archbishop Carroll vs. Calusa Prep (Miami Chr.), 7
Divine Savior vs. Colonial Chr. (Redland Chr.), 5
Island Christian at Redland Christian, 6:45
South Miami at Coral Reef, 7:30
Jackson at Homestead, 5:30
Carrollton at Miami Beach, 3:30
Northwestern at Edison, 3:30
Miami Springs at Miami High, 5
Doral at Southridge, 3:30
TERRA at Sunset, 6
Calusa Prep at Westminster Christian, 6
Hebrew Academy at Dade Christian, 4
Pinecrest Prep vs. Mater East (Virrick), 6
Palmer Trinity at St. Brendan, 7
Coral Reef at Southwest, 6