St. Thomas Aquinas girls’ volleyball

Winning will heal the pain for the St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders

 

St. Thomas is looking to avenge last season’s loss in the state final, and it has a talented roster that should be bolstered by a healthier Alliyah McBean.

Special to the Miami Herald

For St. Thomas Aquinas standouts Nikki Lyons, Mackenzie Zielinski and Alliyah McBean, volleyball is nearly equal parts pain and pride.

The emotional pain was evident last year when the Raiders, who were one win away from their first state volleyball title since 2004, lost in the Class 7A championship match to Venice.

Physical pain is best exemplified by McBean, a 5-5 junior who is dealing with a broken bone in her left wrist that has not fully healed.

She played with it until the 2012 regional quarterfinals but then missed the rest of the playoffs when the pain became unbearable. And given that McBean is a defensive specialist who is tasked with digging the ferocious spike attempts of opposing hitters, her hands are vital.

“It’s better this year,” McBean said of the injury. “When I dig a ball, it stings for about five minutes, but it’s not that bad. It’s not going to heal until I stop playing, and I’m not going to stop playing.”

That’s where the pride comes in for McBean and her aforementioned teammates. All three will play volleyball at the next level — Lyons at Pepperdine, Zielinski at Miami of Ohio and McBean at Delaware State.

Lyons made her choice in the spring, and Zielinski and McBean decided within the past two weeks, giving the Raiders (10-1) three Division I recruits.

Zielinski, a 5-7 senior setter and the daughter of Aquinas coach Lisa Zielinski, has a 4.6 grade-point average and is planning to study business and pre-law.

Lyons, a 6-1 junior outside hitter who has a 3.9 GPA, plans on majoring in business and communications. She chose Pepperdine in part because the Waves won the 2012 sand volleyball title and will allow her to play the indoor and outdoor versions of the sport.

McBean, who has a 3.9 GPA, wants to study forensic biology and is interested in working at an FBI lab.

For now, though, the girls are focused on their high school team, which this year added Kara Mason, a 5-10 junior outside hitter who transferred from Boca Raton High, and three freshman standouts: middle blocker Emma Dixon and outsider hitters Brooke Bauer and Allison Marble.

Those freshmen got a sense of the top competition when Aquinas suffered its only loss of the season so far — on the road against Berkeley Prep (Tampa), which has won 15 state titles, including three in a row from 2009 to 2011.

Aquinas owns a win this season against Evangelical Christian (Fort Myers), which lost in the 2011 Class 3A state final.

Other tough tests will follow, including the Asics Challenge Oct. 4-5 in Chicago against elite teams from around the country. Individual matches include road trips to 2011 Class 7A state champ Martin County on Oct.1, reigning 7A champ Venice on Oct. 10 and 19-time state champion Cardinal Gibbons on Oct. 15.

“I’m so looking forward to Venice,” McBean said. “That will be more than just a game. It’s a personal thing — revenge time.”

And whether Aquinas wins will determine whether the Raiders exit the gym feeling pain, pride … or both.

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

  • Tennis | Boys’ and Girls’ State Championships

    Cypress Bay girls’ tennis team delayed; Coral Gables wins boys’ title

    How fortunes can change in the span of 20 minutes. That’s about how long it took for Cypress Bay to lose its grip on a second consecutive boys’ Class 4A tennis title Tuesday, the end coming swiftly on a bang-bang pair of doubles tiebreakers at the hands of new champion Coral Gables.

  •  
Pembroke Pines Charter's Victoria Hill looks for a shot against South Broward’s Sam Weichhan in the District 12 water polo finals on April 15, 2014.

    Broward High Schools Roundup

    Pembroke Pines Charter beats Cooper City, wins District 12 boys’ water polo championship

    Noah Hernandez snapped his arm like a snake striking its prey, scoring at the buzzer and piling on Cooper City in Pines Charter’s 13-9 win Tuesday in the District 12 boys’ water polo championship. The Jaguars swept both the boys and girls district finals under coach Luis Soler, with the girls team beating South Broward 9-3.

  • Tennis

    Cypress Bay returns to finals

    Cypress Bay coach Vince Grossi makes it a point to never look at the updated brackets once play begins at the state tennis championships.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category