Calvary Christian’s path to state is riddled with tradition-rich programs.
Cardinal Gibbons, Pine Crest, Ransom Everglades and Westminster Christian have all won state volleyball titles, and Chaminade-Madonna has reached the state tournament.
With a lineup that only graduated one senior, this could be the season the Eagles start making their own mark on the state record books.
“We should be fairly competitive and have a great chance of winning the district,” Calvary Christian coach Hugo Jimenez said. “The district is tough with all the powerhouses on that team, but if we can work hard and keep progressing we should be in good shape once we get to the playoffs.”
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Jimenez, who is entering his second season as Calvary Christian’s coach, knows what it’s like to build a state championship team. Jimenez was an assistant coach for his mother, Terri’s Pine Crest team that won three consecutive state titles from 2001-2003.
Hugo sees plenty of potential in this Calvary team that missed the regional playoffs last season, but went 17-4 and played several tough matches against powerhouses such as Pine Crest and Gibbons.
Calvary Christian graduated middle blocker Haley Batchelor, but returns the rest of its starting lineup.
Senior setter Jessie Underwood (5-10) will run the Eagles’ offense once again this season and has a number of talented hitters around her.
Senior outside hitters Nicole Decker and Kailey Hendry, and a pair of sophomores Maylin Bouffard and Kaitlyn Green, a 6-footer that will replace Batchelor in the middle, make up the attacking line at the net.
The group was bolstered by the arrival of freshman Faith Jefferson, another middle blocker and daughter of first-year Miami Dolphins wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson.
The back row defense will be led by senior Marielle Diaz and sophomore Kaitlyn Watkins.
Calvary Christian already scored a big win this week over defending state champion Cardinal Gibbons in three sets. Both teams, along with Pine Crest, Ransom, Westminster Christian and Chaminade-Madonna — all contenders this season — moved from Class 4A to 5A when the state expanded the sports district alignment to nine classes.
Both Gibbons and Pine Crest graduated several key players.
Pine Crest graduated several players, but is led by senior setter Kylie Bruder, a Preseason All-American by PrepVolleyball.com. Bruder and senior outside hitter Ariana Altieri hope to lead the Panthers to state for the second time in three seasons.
The Chiefs lost 10 seniors, but should remain solid with senior libero Macie Evans and senior outside Jade Jeffrey leading the new starting group.
One piece of good news for all of Broward’s contenders in the realigned Class 5A is that the classification’s reigning state champion, Orlando Bishop Moore, moved up to 6A. The Hornets enter the season ranked No. 1 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com.
Like Bishop Moore, St. Thomas Aquinas will be among the nation’s best teams.
Led by Pepperdine commit, Brook Bauer, the Raiders return practically their entire lineup from a team that went 30-2 and cruised to the Class 7A state championship.
As Aquinas moves up to Class 8A, it will be in great shape to win three consecutive state titles for the first time in school history. The Raiders had won only two state titles before the current streak.
Joining Bauer are fellow preseason All-Americans, Derry Costigan, a 6-0 junior setter, and 5-7 junior defensive specialist Paula Cerame.
Six-foot seniors Emma Dixon and Allison Marble will anchor the front line for the Raiders.
Sept. 16-17: Berkeley Prep Invitational in Tampa
Sept. 23-24: Monarch, Chaminade Invitationals
Oct. 7: Patriot Invitational at Florida Christian
Oct. 4-5: BCAA championship
Oct. 14-15: Smoothie King Invitational at Ransom
Oct. 17-21: Districts
Oct. 25: Regional quarterfinals (Class 9A-5A)
Oct. 26: Regional semifinals (Class 4A-1A)
Oct. 28: Regional semifinals (Class 9A-5A)
Oct. 29: Regional finals (Class 4A-1A)
Nov. 1: Regional finals (Class 9A-5A)
Nov. 5: State semifinals
Nov. 11-12: State championships at site TBA
2015 STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 8A: Winter Springs; 7A: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas; 6A: Jensen Beach; 5A: Orlando Bishop Moore; 4A: Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons; 3A: Gainesville PK Yonge; 2A: Boynton Beach Lake Worth Christian; 1A: Sneads.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
OH Brook Bauer, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-1, Sr.
S Kylie Bruder, Pine Crest, 5-11, Sr.
S Derry Costigan, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-0, Jr.
DS Paula Cerame, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-7, Jr.
OH Nicole Decker, Calvary Christian, 5-10, Sr.
MH Emma Dixon, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-0, Sr.
OH Allison Marble, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-0, Sr.
S Jenna Boland, Westminster Academy, 5-10, Sr.
S Jessie Underwood, Calvary Christian, 5-11, Sr.
LIB Macie Evans, Cardinal Gibbons, 5-4, Sr.
OH Taylor Lambert, North Broward Prep, 5-7, Sr.
OH-S Danielle Franzosa, Chaminade, Jr.
Others to watch: OH Ariana Altieri, Pine Crest, 5-8, Sr.; OH Lauren Bandera, Archbishop McCarthy, 5-5, Jr.; OH Jamie Boros, Westminster Academy, 5-10, Sr.; LIB Marielle Diaz, Calvary Christian, 5-3, Sr.; OH Jade Jeffery, Cardinal Gibbons, 6-2, Sr.; MH Jada Gardner, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-9, Jr.; S Kelsey O’Laughlin, St. Thomas Aquinas, 5-8, So.; OH Kayla Schmitz, Monarch, Sr.
SEASON OUTLOOKS - CLASS 8A
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Coach Lisa Zielinski). Last year: 30-2 (State champions). Top players: OH Brook Bauer, 6-1, Sr.; S Derry Costigan, St. Thomas Aquinas, 6-0, Jr.; MH Emma Dixon, 6-0, Sr.; OH Allison Marble, 6-0, Sr.; DS Paula Cerame, 5-7, Jr.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Corey Marks, 1st year). Last year: 20-9 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: OH Victoria Boudreux, 5-7, So.; OH Lauren Bandera, 5-5, Jr.; LIB Valentina Caicedo, 5-1, Sr.; OH Jenna Amaro, 5-9, Fr.; MH Diana Ruiz, 5-8, Jr.; S-OH Nadia St. Thomas, 5-7, Jr.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Lori Rembe, 13th year at AH, 24th overall). Last year: 12-6. Top players: MH-OH Lucila Grinspan, 5-11, Sr.; MH-OH Femi Funeus, 6-1, Jr.; S Julia Wheeler-Sabatino, 5-6, Sr.; OH Daniela Jaime, 5-8, So.; DS Isabela Acosta, 5-5, Sr.
CALVARY CHRISTIAN (Coach Hugo Jimenez, 2nd year, 17-4). Last year: 17-4. Top players: OH Nicole Decker, 5-10, Sr.; S Jessie Underwood, 5-11, Sr.; LIB Marielle Diaz, 5-3, Sr.; OH Maylin Bouffard, So.; MH Kaitlyn Green, 6-0, So.
PINE CREST (Coach Albert Sturgeon, 6th year). Last year: 20-8 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: S Kylie Bruder, 6-0, Sr.; OH Ariana Altieri, 5-8, Sr.; S Shari Stenglein, 5-8, Jr.
CARDINAL GIBBONS (Coach Kathryn Reeber, 9th year, 176-45). Last year: 25-7 (State champions). Top players: OH Jade Jeffery, Sr.; L Macie Evans, 5-4, Sr.; OH Nikki Restrepo, 6-0, Jr.; OH Jenna Giaquinto, 5-8, So.; S-OH Caitlyn Faber, 5-10, So.; MH-OH Monet Butler, 5-9, Sr.
NORTH BROWARD PREP (Coach Austin Clubb, 3rd year at NBP, 9th overall). Last year: 10-11. Top players: OH Taylor Lambert, 5-7, Sr.; S Maria Estevez, 5-6, Jr.; OH Gillian Gaeta, 5-7, Sr.; OH Madelyn Wilson, 5-6, So.; LIB Nataleea Manguai, 5-6, So.; MH Jenna Shortridge, 5-11, Sr.
NSU UNIVERSITY SCHOOL (Coach Isabela da Silva, 1st year at US, 3rd overall, 22-9). Last year: 4-21. Top players: MH-OH Tamara Outler, 5-9, Sr.; OH Yasemin Zerrin, 5-10, Jr.; MH Selin Ege, 5-11, Jr.; S Kyla Roche, 5-8, Fr.; OH Samantha Abisch, 5-7, Jr.; MH-OH Julia Musso, 5-8, Jr.
WESTMINSTER ACADEMY (Coach Eric Rivera, 1st year). Last year: 21-6 (Regional finalist). Top players: S Jenna Boland, 5-10, Sr.; OH Jaime Boros, 5-10, Jr.; OH Caroline Elgut, 5-10, Sr.; OH Glynnis Carlson, 5-11, Sr.; MH Kasey Colford, 5-11, Sr.; OH Gillianna Kalb, 5-8, Sr.