Boys’ volleyball

Ransom, Southwest aim for title

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Big hitter</span>: Southwest’s William Rodriguez, right, spikes the ball in front of Longwood Lyman's Kenny Lawrence in last year’s state semifinals.
Big hitter: Southwest’s William Rodriguez, right, spikes the ball in front of Longwood Lyman's Kenny Lawrence in last year’s state semifinals.
Phelan M. Ebenhack / Phelan M. Ebenhack

Boys’ volleyball season overview


March 21Jungle Queen Invitational at Gibbons

April 4-5Berkeley Prep Invitational at Tampa

April 11-12Smoothie King Invitational

April 23GMAC championship

April 28-May 3Districts

May 6State play-in round

May 9-10State tournament at Pine Crest


Southwest(2003, 2008)

Longwood Lyman(2004, 2013)

Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons(2005)

Boca Raton Spanish River(2006, 2007)

Orlando Bishop Moore(2010, 2012)

Orlando Timber Creek(2009)

Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge(2011)


1. SOUTHWEST (Coach Mauricio Diaz, 16th year, 365-44). Last year: 24-6 (State semifinalist). Top players: Ricky Reguera, 6-0, Sr.; William Rodriguez, 6-4, Sr.; Joseph Perez, 6-2, Sr.; Orlando Gomez, 5-8, Jr.

2. SUNSET (Coach Camilo Gaitan, 6th year, 114-42). Last year: 24-3 (Round of 16). Top players: Alex Lazo, 6-4, Sr.; Josh Calderon, 5-10, Sr.; Zach Fernandez, 6-0, Sr.

3. RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Roger Peluso, 15th year at RE, 25th overall). Last year: 15-11. Top players: OH Victor Campano, 6-3, Sr.; L Blake Adler, 5-10, Sr.; MH Nick Stern, 6-4, Sr.; OH Sean Bonner, 6-4, Sr.

4. COLUMBUS (Coach Greg Villareal, 4th year, 67-17). Last year: 16-9 (District runner-up). Top players: N/A.

5. MOURNING (Coach Dee Rey, 7th year at ATM, 12th overall). Last year: 17-4 (State quarterfinalist). Top players: Matheus Mera, 6-5, Sr.; Daniel Barrera, 6-0, Sr.; Julian Moreira, 6-3, Sr.; Nicolas Triana, 6-0, Jr.

6. CORAL REEF (Coach Yasmin Ortiz, 6th year, 173-102). Last year: 22-7 (State semifinalist). Top players: Zavier Peart, 6-7, Sr.; Juan Duplessy, 6-1, Sr.

7. PALMETTO (Coach Chris Kallinosis, 4th year). Last year: District runner-up. Top players: Devin Decker, 6-4, Jr.; Joey Sensale, 6-2, Jr.; Tanner Ray, 6-1, Sr.; Thomas Latimer, 5-9, Jr.

8. KILLIAN (Coach Clinton Reid, 15th year at KIL, 19th overall). Last year: 8-7. Top players: Jack Harris, 5-8, Sr.; Jason Harris, 5-8, So.; Jose Martinez, 6-2, Jr.; Damian Horton, 6-2, Jr.

9. FLORIDA CHRISTIAN (Coach Lauren Beers, 1st year). Last year: District semifinalist. Top players: OH Ace Fernandez, 6-2, Sr.; OH Willmar Gonzalez, 6-1, Jr.; S-OH Johnny Benitez, 6-0, Sr.; L Alex Benites, 5-7, Jr.

10. WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Jimmy Exley, 3rd year at WC, 10th overall, 201-56). Last year: 12-10. Top players: Matt Zelhof, 6-0, Sr.; Josh Avery, 5-9, So.; Thomas North, 6-1, So.; Ian Poveda, 6-1, Fr.

11. HIALEAH-MIAMI LAKES (Coach Alex Plaza, 15th year, 340-149). Last year: 14-6. Top players: Andres Carvajal, 6-1, Sr.; Mike Roman, 6-3, Jr.; Josue Espinoza, 5-10, Jr.; Dario Gonzalez, 6-2, So.

12. BRADDOCK (Coach Adriana Fundora). Last year: N/A. Top players: Alvaro Larralde, 6-0, Sr.; Rensel Cabrera, 5-10, Sr.; Angel Jover, 5-8, Sr.

13. MATER ACADEMY (Coach Elsa Lopez, 1st year at MA, 4th overall, 32-15). Last year: N/A. Top players: Samuel Dietz, 6-0, Sr.; Roderick Golden, 6-0, Sr.; Abraham Krunick, 6-5, Jr.; Hansel Canda, 5-11, Sr.

14. MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Markia Brown-Seetal, 4th year at MP, 8th overall). Last year: 12-10. Top players: Adam Reiz, 5-10, Jr.; Dartanian Brazile, 5-10, Jr.; Nyles Symonette, 6-0, Jr.; Daniel Duarte, 6-4, Sr.

15. HIALEAH (Coach Rosa Garcia, 7th year). Last year: 6-10. Top players: Julio Santana, 5-7, Sr.; Gesier Estrada-Lopez, 5-8, Sr.

16. TERRA (Coach Vladimir Prado, 5th year). Last year: 3-9. Top players: N/A.

17. AMERICAN (Coach Nicholas Toro, 7th year, 63-78). Last year: 2-5. Top players: Auris Amparo, 6-6, Sr.; Frank Guanche, 6-2, So.

Together on the girls’ volleyball coaching staff at Ransom Everglades this fall, Mauricio Diaz and Roger Peluso watched as their team helped end Miami-Dade County’s 18-year state championship drought in the sport.

The goal for Diaz, in his 16th season at Southwest, and Peluso, who also coaches the upcoming Ransom boys’ team, is to keep the county from slipping into a similar slump in the boys’ circuit.

“The fact we got back to state and we had three teams there last season shows you that participation and excitement for volleyball was up again,” Diaz said.

“Orlando is one area that has kids playing year round and that’s why you see the success they’ve had. We need to keep that going down here.”

Southwest has delivered the county’s only two state championships (2003 and 2008) in the sport since it became sanctioned by the Florida High School Athletic Association in 2003.

And this season, the Eagles figure to be the county’s top contender to bring home a state crown at the state tournament, which returns to South Florida this year May 9-10 at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.

Southwest returns three seniors that will be the core of the Eagles’ bid to return to state. At the forefront are hitters Ricky Reguera and William Rodriguez.

Reguera, a 6-0 outside, had 259 kills and 49 digs last season, guiding Southwest to the state semifinals for the seventh time in its history.

Joseph Perez, a 6-2 setter, had 407 assists and is expected to conduct the Eagles up-tempo attack.

Diaz is expecting big contributions from juniors Orlando Gomez and Daniel Sainz as well.

Tough districts

Ransom has yet to win a boys’ district championship.

That could end this season as the Raiders return one of the county’s top outside hitters in 6-3 senior Victor Campano and a strong senior core of starters that includes libero Blake Adler and middle hitter Nick Stern.

Ransom will have to contend with Columbus in a tough District 14 race.

“If all goes well, we definitely will have a chance to win it,” Peluso said. “It’s all about these kids getting enough experience, especially the ones that played other sports before the season.”

Southwest’s district got more interesting following the Florida High School Athletic Association’s latest realignment.

• Longtime rival Sunset is back in District 15 with the Eagles and hoping for a better result than it had a year ago when a promising 24-3 season ended with a loss to Coral Reef in the state play-in round.

The Knights are led by 6-4 senior Alex Lazo, a powerful middle hitter, 5-10 senior outside hitter Josh Calderon, a four-year player on the team, and senior Zach Fernandez, who is expected to be an all-around contributor.

• Coral Reef returns seven players from its state semifinalist squad although it graduated six of senior stars including basketball/volleyball standout Cedric Hankerson.

If the Barracudas are to make another run this season, they will rely on 6-7 senior Zavier Peart and a new cast of athletic basketball players who have fine-tuned their skills in volleyball. The biggest challenges for Coral Reef in District 16 may come from Palmetto and Killian.

• Mourning, which made its state debut last season, returns two of its primary standouts from its state quarterfinalist squad in 6-5 senior Matheus Mera and 6-0 senior Daniel Barrera. The Sharks are the favorites on the north end of Miami-Dade County to compete with Broward County for a return trip to state.

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