OK, so not every story has a “David versus Goliath” ending.
Sometimes Goliath wins and such was the case last week when the Miami Springs Middle School Eagles girls volleyball team traveled south to Coral Reef High School to take on heavily favored Lamar Curry Middle School.
The event was the Miami-Dade County middle school championship match and the Springs girls, despite having only one returning player from last year’s groundbreaking team which won the school’s first-ever county championship, found themselves competing to repeat as champions.
But this time, the task was way too tall for the Springs girls — literally.
A program that feeds directly off a club program, Curry (located down in the deep south end of the county) is considered to middle school girls volleyball what the New England Patriots are to the NFL.
Sure enough, after Springs had torn through straight-sets victories over Madison Middle, Palm Springs Middle and Edison Middle in the semifinals to make it to the big stage, they found out how the other half lives when Curry defeated them in straight sets, 25-10, 25-11, to claim the title.
“I’ve got to be honest, I’m proud of my girls, but Lamar Curry is probably the best middle school team I’ve seen in years,” said Springs head coach Lazaro Leal. “We knew going into the game that we were huge underdogs, but the girls went into the game not intimidated in any way and believing they could win. I have never been prouder of any group of kids I have coached. These girls displayed a level of sportsmanship towards each other and their opponents that was truly special.”
In the end, not the greatest of pep talks by Leal or assistant coach Jessica Fortich was going to help against the loaded Curry squad.
“They have a roster loaded with club players who will go straight to some high school varsity programs with no stopping at JV and be very successful,” said Leal. “Nevertheless, our girls battled to the very end. They dove, hustled and gave everything they had until the very last point of the game, but this year they were clearly outmatched.”
The only returning player was captain Katherine Inhoof. The remainder of the girls, according to Leal, had never even played organized volleyball.
“We plucked them from different sports and managed to put it together,” said Leal. “We stressed excellent team defense, had some great setters (Angela Moon and Olga Mendez) and managed to coast through the regular season.”
Despite the loss to Curry, Leal and Fortich can walk around with their heads held pretty high as they have built quite a program at Miami Springs Middle School over recent years.
Not only did they win a first-ever county championship last year when they defeated Ammons Middle in the finals, they were in the championship contest back in 2010 as well, settling for the runner-up trophy after losing to Arvida Middle.
“We’ve got a nice thing going and would like to keep it going every year and hopefully help our program over at the senior high school,” said Leal.
Besides the aforementioned Inhoof, Mendez and Moon, other members of the Lady Eagles included the team’s top hitter, Alycia Negrin, Nicole Decardenas, Kristen Medina, Stephanie Mendez, Ariadna Quintana, Victoria Harvey, Thalia Musa, Natalia Martinez, Arianna Alayo, Franchesca Espinal and team manager Briana Gomez.