Instead of breaking huddles with their typical screaming of the team nickname “Sharks,” the Sheridan Hills Christian girls’ volleyball team adopted a new rallying cry this season:
The significance of the new chant is that Sheridan Hills coach Debbie Rantin had been pregnant all season, and her baby girl — Macy Margaret — was born at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
That’s four days before the Sharks (20-4) return to the Class 2A state semifinals for the third straight season. On Friday at 9 a.m., the Sharks — still seeking their first state title — will face Winter Garden’s Foundation Academy, the school that eliminated them last season.
“Any time they lose, our kids crave a rematch,” Rantin said Tuesday from her hospital bed. “We lost to Boca Raton Christian 3-0 in the regular season and came back and beat them 3-1 in the regional semifinals.”
Surprisingly, Rantin has not ruled out making the trip to Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena for Friday’s match. But if she is unable to go, her husband, Justin — who also serves as the assistant coach — will direct the team.
“I’m feeling great,” Rantin said. “It was a very easy delivery.”
If only beating Foundation (28-3) were that simple.
The Lions, 106-16 the past four seasons, have lost in the state final the past two years and have five girls 5-10 or taller, including two who are 6-0.
They also have a balanced offense with five girls with more than 190 kills each.
Sheridan, with no six-footers on its roster, relies heavily on 5-8 senior Caitlin McCluskey, a St. Thomas University recruit who leads the team in kills (285) and hitting percentage (52).
McCluskey hurt her swinging shoulder in the third point of last year’s loss to Foundation, which was a major factor in the Sharks’ loss.
She’s healthy now, however, and the Sharks are hoping that will go a long way toward getting them to Saturday’s 11 a.m. state final against either Winter Park Geneva or Naples Seacrest Country Day.
Beyond McCluskey, the Sharks are led by Amber Stout, a 5-7 sophomore setter who leads the team in assists.
She had one game this season where she served 24 straight points.
Starting middle blocker Destiny Marino joins McCluskey as the team’s only seniors. The other starters are sophomore outside hitters Michaela Poitevien and Stephanie Font, sophomore libero Valeria Estrada and promising eighth-grade middle blocker Diana Ruiz.
“The girls,” Rantin said, “are excited about state and about the baby.”
• Everglades 0, Flanagan 0: Kenan Mora recorded seven saves and got a shutout on goal to prevent his Everglades squad from dropping a third consecutive game.
David Gonzalez and Hector Arboleta anchored the stingy Gators defense that did not allow a goal.
The Gators improve to 1-0-2.
• Hollywood Hills 2, Nova 1: Kevin Becerra and Dahn Do each scored goals as Hollywood Hills beat Nova.
The Spartans, behind the play of Becerra and Do, inched out the close victory against the host Titans.
With the victory, the Spartans are 1-1-1.
St. Thomas Aquinas 8, Western 0: A strong offensive surge headlined by Bella Dorosy’s two goals helped St. Thomas Aquinas rout Western.
Dallas Dorosy added a goal and an assist. Maggie Falter, Alli Johnson, Alejandra Suarez, Dulce Maccarthy and Ciara Giordano all netted goals in the rout.
Abby Pangallo and Brittany Macalusso combined for the shutout.
The Raiders improve to 4-0-1.
• Archbishop McCarthy 11, Stranahan 0: Three Mavericks scored two goals apiece, and eight total players netted one goal en route to the easy win against Stranahan.
Toni Mendoza, Stephanie Moreno and Adrianna Cabeza each netted two goals apiece.
Aly Maranges, Mikayla Plummer, Madison St. Philip, Angelica and Abby Ribas added goals.
The Mavericks continue their perfect season at 9-0.
• Cardinal Gibbons 3, Chaminade-Madonna 1: Behind goals from three different scorers, the Chiefs cruised past Chaminade.
Leslie Novakovic, Mackenzie Crittenberger and K.K. Pawelczyk scored for the Chiefs.
With the win, Cardinal Gibbons improves to 4-1.
• Pine Crest 5, Somerset 0: Sophia Danielson recorded her third shuout of the season as Pine Crest blanked Somerset.
Autumn Clark netted two goals, and Jordyn Elliott added two goals of her own.
The shutout victory improves the Panthers to 5-1-1 on the season.
• University School 1, North Broward 1: North Broward Prep and University School played to a draw.
Madiya Harriott scored the lone goal for the Suns on a Julia Grosso assist. Rachel Blow netted a goal for the Eagles behind an Emma Dineen assist.
Sam Susi recorded five saves for the Eagles.
North Broward Prep is 4-1-1.
• Sagemont 50, Hialeah 31: SAG: Provenzino 9, 3 steals. Black 13, 6 rebounds, 4 steals. Rucker 8, 3 steals. Smith 7, 8 rebounds, 3 steals. Correa 3, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals. Cole 10. HIA: Prado 3. Charles 14. Jones 1. Hall 10. Dornur 3. SAG 1-0. HIA 0-1.
Boyd Anderson vs. Mourning (Mourning), 4
Somerset Academy vs. Hialeah Educational Academy (Hialeah Educational Academy), 3:30
Boyd Anderson vs. Mourning (Mourning), 6
North Miami Beach vs. South Broward (South Broward), 7
Pine Crest vs. SLAM Charter (SLAM Charter), 6
Miramar vs. Hialeah (HIA), 6
Krop vs. Everglades (Everglades), 7
American Heritage vs. Carrollton (CARR), 4
Miramar vs. Hialeah (HIA), 4
Pine Crest vs. SLAM Charter (SLAM Charter), 4:30
Krop vs. Everglades (Everglades), 5
Flanagan vs. Deerfield Beach (Deerfield), 7:30
Monarch vs. Miramar (Miramar), 7:30
Miami Springs vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Aquinas), 7:30
Plantation vs. American (Milander), 7:30
West Boca Raton vs. Blanche Ely (Ely), 7:30
Boyd Anderson vs. Dwyer (Home), 7:30
Carol City vs. Dillard (Dillard), 7:30
Naples Lely vs. American Heritage ( ), 7:30
Cardinal Gibbons vs. Immokalee (Immokalee), 7:30
Gulliver Prep vs. University School (Nova), 7:30
Chaminade-Madonna vs. Cardinal Newman (Cardinal Newman), 7:30