The GMAC boys’ volleyball championship came down to two teams highly motivated to win for their beloved retiring coaches — Killian’s Clinton Reid, leaving the Cougars after 20 years, and Mourning’s Dee Rey, moving on after 10 successful years with the Sharks.
Mourning dominated the first set, but Killian rallied after a pep talk from Reid and won the match 13-25, 25-19, 15-9 at the Sunset High gym.
The Killian players said Reid’s pending departure fuels them. The Cougars were 26-4 last season and reached the state final, but fell a few points short.
“It makes us want to push harder and win just for him,” said senior middle hitter Spencer Saint-Eloi. “He’s the reason we’re doing it. He’s a father figure, very patient, he teaches us everything we need to know in volleyball and in life.”
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Reid has been contemplating retirement for five years, but insists he’s serious this time. He stayed longer than he had planned because his volleyball-playing niece joined the school, so he wanted to coach her. She graduated last year, but he was persuaded to stay on one more year.
“I’m exhausted,” Reid said. “I’ve done my time. But I want to leave on a high note.”
After dropping the first set, Reid made a lineup change and challenged his players to find another gear.
“I told them to play with pride,” Reid said. “I told them, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about representing Killian. Show them that you’re good.’ So, they took that on and woke up. When they won the second set, I said, ‘They have given you a chance to win. Now, go get it.’’’
That they did.
The teams traded points early in the deciding set, but then the Cougars went on a 7-2 run to open up a 13-7 lead and the Sharks never caught up. Killian was led by junior outside hitter Jomar Mondestin (12 kills, three digs), junior setter Diego Savilli (29 assists), senior middle Saint-Eloi (10 kills), and senior outside hitter Chris Hallstrand (seven kills, five digs). Savilli was fired up the entire night, roaring with each Cougar spike, encouraging his teammates when they seemed down.
“It feels amazing to win the GMAC championship, knowing that last year we fell short [lost to Columbus second round],” said Mondestin. “Coming from that first set, we knew we could beat them. We weren’t awake at first, but we came together and did it.”
Rey, whose team has made the state tournament four years in a row and was the reigning GMAC champion, said: “When we play strong, and together as a team, we’re unstoppable. They fought their hardest, and played a great first game, but the second game there was a disconnect. It’s frustrating.”
The Sharks’ leading player was All-County senior libero Riain Festge, who had 15 kills, six blocks and 42 assists over the quarterfinal, semi and final rounds Wednesday. Senior hitter Ray Peterson had 16 kills, four aces and a block.
Earlier Round Results:
Quarterfinals: Mourning d. Hialeah Miami Lakes 25-12, 25-21. Southwest d. Braddock 25-12, 25-19. Sunset d. Miami High 25-23, 25-21. Killian d. Krop 25-12, 25-14.
Semifinals: Mourning d. Southwest 25-21, 25-19. Killian d. Sunset 25-20, 25-17.