Southwest returned to its traditional elite status in boys’ volleyball last season.
With an athletic, senior-laden squad, the Eagles appear to be favorites heading into next week’s playoffs to bring home the state championship that has eluded them in recent years.
The Eagles gave another demonstration Thursday, beating three of Miami-Dade County’s best en route to their first GMAC championship since 2010.
Southwest capped the tournament by beating Killian in the final, 25-21, 25-20, after beating Palmetto and Mourning in the earlier rounds.
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The Eagles (24-1) will now turn their attention to trying to win their first state title since 2008, which would also be the first since then for a Miami-Dade County team.
“This team had some adversity early in the year, and they battled through it,” Southwest coach Mauricio Diaz said.
“They’re realizing that it’s up to them to win [the state title].”
Southwest, which will enter next week’s District 15 tournament as the top seed, gained plenty of confidence in recent weeks by winning the Smoothie King Invitational and beating three of Orlando’s top teams, including Bishop Moore along the way.
Outside hitter Ricky Reguera, who was limited early in the season by an ankle injury, is one of the team’s three key seniors.
Reguera finished with nine digs and four kills against Killian, and had 18 kills and 17 digs overall for the tournament.
Senior William Rodriguez finished with 14 kills overall, and senior setter Joseph Perez had 26 assists against Killian and 69 assists.
Southwest’s contributions don’t stop with its seniors, however.
Junior middle hitter Danny Sainz has been crucial throughout the season and Thursday finished with 20 kills and nine blocks for the tournament. Junior libero Orlando Gomez finished with 21 digs.
The Eagles didn’t have a lot of trouble in the first game against Killian, but trailed by as many as six points in the second. Reguera, Rodriguez and junior Gustavo DeLeon helped turn the momentum back in their favor and rally from a 20-17 deficit to win the match.
“We played a few very good teams and it was exhausting, and you could see it in our play at the end,” Diaz said. “But it’s good that we had to play through that.
“We’ve expanded what we’ve been doing on offense, and our defense is really responding. I think as long as we’re healthy, we can make a run at this.”
Other results – Semifinals: Southwest d. Palmetto, 25-17, 25-20; Killian d. Sunset; Quarterfinals:Southwest d. Mourning, 25-18, 25-16; Sunset d. Columbus; Killian d. Hialeah Gardens; Palmetto d. Miami High.