Describing his thoughts wasn’t a problem for Cardinal Gibbons boys’ volleyball coach Mike Zarate.
Zarate said he wanted his team to remember, “What this feels like.” On Saturday, “this” implied so much. Gibbons lost 18-25, 25-17, 26-28, 27-25, 13-15 to Wellington in the gold bracket championship match of the Jungle Queen tournament.
“A lot of the guys who are playing now, they don’t have a lot of game time experience,” Zarate said. “It shows during the tough times.”
Getting experience wasn’t an issue with Gibbons (7-1) playing five games over two days.
The Chiefs faced a few tough teams in the tournament but the Wolverines (9-0) provided the greatest challenge they’d seen all year, said junior outside hitter Corry Short.
Playing the Wolverines meant fighting through a tough yet structured front line that challenged every single ball the Chiefs sent over. Even when it appeared the Chiefs won a point, some Wolverine player would find a way to keep the play alive.
Gibbons, with the match tied at 1-1, appeared as if their hard work paid off finally when it had a 24-21 lead in the third set. That last point was a formality until the Chiefs committed three consecutive errors, allowing the Wolverines to get back into the set, which they eventually won.
“That was especially tough for us to come back for,” Short said. “But we had to pick our heads up in that fourth set.”
Zarate’s statement about his team needing experience does not apply to Short.
Short might be the best player in the state. He’s playing for the USA Select A1, making him a future member for the U.S. National Team. He’s already being recruited by powers like Princeton, Stanford and UC-Irvine, Zarate said.
The 6-foot-4 Short powered his team to a victory in the fourth set. When Gibbons needed a point, it looked to Short. He was always on the left side waiting for the ball. When he did get the ball, he consistently found space for a kill.
He finished with 34 kills, 14 digs, three assists, two aces, two service points and two blocks.
“This tournament is a good tournament and there was good competition all around,” said Wellington coach Brian Bausch. “I knew just because we won that first set, this was not going to be an easy game.”
Wellington rallied from 13-12 winning three straight points with the final two kills coming from Keegan Sullivan and AJ Starkins.
There was some disappointment in losing a home tournament. But that will all be worth it if the Chiefs can use this experience and build toward something greater like a long playoff run in something more meaningful like the state playoffs.
“Luckily, we’re not at the end of our season,” Zarate said. “We can learn something from this.”
Aquinas successful in silver bracket
St. Thomas Aquinas won, 22-25, 25-15, 25-8 and 25-23, over Tampa Berkeley in the silver bracket championship match also held at Cardinal Gibbons.
Douglas claimed third place with a 25-22, 25-23 win over Pine Crest in the silver bracket consolation game.
•Jungle Queen Tournament: SLAM d. Pace 25-10, 25-14:
Alain Perez 5 kills, 15 points. Joseph Cordero 10 points.
•Jungle Queen Tournament: Palmetto d. Boca Raton 23-25, 25-18, 15-11:
Devin Decker 15 kills. Thomas Latimer 27 assists, 4 kills, 7 blocks, 3 aces. Julian Hunt 6 kills. Tanner Ray 8 digs. PAL 4-1 through tournament, finish in 3rd place. PAL 9-2.
•Jungle Queen Tournamnet: Palmetto d. Tampa Berkeley Prep 22-25, 25-20, 15-13:
Devin Decker 16 kills, 6 digs, 3 blocks. Joey Sensale 7 kills, 4 aces. Thomas Latimer 29 assists, 4 digs.
•Jungle Queen Tournamnet: Palmetto d. Flanagan 25-14, 25-7:
Tanner Ray 6 kills, 5 aces. Alex Brown 4 kills. Luke Lee 4 aces.
•Jungle Queen Tournamnet: Palmetto d. Pace 25-10, 25-13:
Sean Diaz-Gomez 5 kills. Julian Hunt 4 kills. Nick Vacarro 4 kills.
WP: Jesse Crosno (4-1). SV: Evan McKendry. Top performers: Cam Chafetz 2-3. US 8-7.
•Belen 6, Cardinal Gibbons 0:
WP: Eric Artigues. Top performers: Alex Cabrera 2-3, 2 runs. David Guevara 1-3, 2B, 2 RBIs. Javi Herrera 1-4, 3B, 3 RBIs. BEL 11-4. CG 9-6.
TRACK AND FIELD
South Miami vs. Miami Beach (Flamingo), 12:00
Mater Lakes vs. Hialeah Educational, 3:30
Boca Raton vs. Westwood Christian (WCS), 4:00
St. Brendan vs. Belen Jesuit (Belen), 4:00
Curley vs. Miami Country Day, 7:00
Greater Miami vs. Westwood Christian, 4:00
Carroll vs. Curley (CUR), 4:00
LaSalle vs. Carroll (Carroll), 4:00
Pace vs. Calvary Christian, 4:00