Mourning broke the trend among boys’ volleyball programs in Miami-Dade County.
In a sport typically dominated by teams on the southern end of the county, the Sharks have not just hung with the big boys, they’ve consistently beat them.
Mourning, a two-time GMAC champion, enters this season hoping to reach the state tournament for the fifth consecutive season – something no other school in Dade or Broward County has done during that span.
But for longtime coach Dee Rey, who said she is stepping down at the end of the season, to win what’s been an elusive state championship would be the milestone to complete the program’s emergence as one of the state’s best.
Rey said she is stepping down after 10 years coaching the Sharks to spend more time with family, in particular her eldest daughter, who is about to give birth to her first child.
The boys at Mourning – her extended family – for nearly a decade are hoping to give her a major going-away present.
“We have a lot of kids this year that sat the bench the past couple of years and seen our guys make it to state but come up short,” Rey said. “They’ve all been saying, ‘We’re doing it this year.’ They want it bad for me and for themselves of course.”
It could happen if Mourning’s experience pays off.
The Sharks have eight seniors, who have been with the program all four years of high school returning led by Riain Festge, a 5-10 senior libero/setter. Festge, who has a 3.8 GPA, is heading to West Florida to study cognitive psychology. He’ll set primarily to senior middle Sam Willinger and outside Ray Peterson. Junior Andres Delgado will handle the libero duties primarily.
Mourning will compete in several top-tier tournaments including the Dr. Phillips tournament in Orlando, the Florida Christian Invitational and Smoothie King Invitational as it prepares for a tough postseason slate.
While the Sharks figure to make another strong push for the state title, Killian is hoping to clear the final hurdle toward winning the school’s first championship in the sport.
The Cougars battled Archbishop McCarthy to five games in last year’s final before coming up a few points short.
Killian graduated versatile setter/hitter Jason Harris, but bring back its core of players including the tough 6-1 outside combo of senior Christopher Hallstrand and Jomar Mondestin, whom each played a major role on last year’s team. If the two can provide a solid line along with 6-2 senior middles Spencer Saint-Eloi and Aven Woodley, Killian should be in a position to return to Naples and challenge the state’s best.
Longtime McCarthy coach Karen Frank has turned over the reigns to one of her best alums, Corey Marks.
The Mavericks have some holes to fill if they want to repeat as state champions after losing their setter Luis Vazquez, libero Nicolas Grossman and top hitter Michael Moreiras.
Senior hitter Leo DeQuadros will lead a young group that should get stronger as the season progresses. Cardinal Gibbons, Monarch, South Broward and Cypress Bay are among the top challengers to McCarthy’s reign in Broward.
Monday: Regular season began; March 10-11: Orlando Dr. Phillips tournament, SLAM Invitational; March 17-18: Jungle Queen Invitational, Florida Christian Invitational; March 24-25: Smoothie King Invitational; April 17-21: GMAC championship; April 24-29: Districts; May 2: State play-in matches; May 5-6: State tournament at Naples Golden Gate; May 11: Dade All-Star game at SLAM.
2016 STATE CHAMPION
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
MH Jimmy Brooks, Archbishop McCarthy, 6-7, Sr.; OH Michael Colonna, Ransom Everglades, 6-5, Sr.; OH Leo DeQuadros, Archbishop McCarthy, 6-1, Sr.; S Sean Drexl, Monarch, 5-9, Sr.; LIB-S Riain Festge, Mourning, 5-10, Sr.; OH Liam Gilchrist, Southwest, 6-2, Sr.; OH Christopher Hallstrand, Killian, 6-1, Sr.; OH James Martin, Cardinal Gibbons, 6-8, Jr.; MH Jomar Mondestin, Killian, 6-1, Jr.; OH Alex Sands, South Broward, 6-2, Sr.
Others to watch: OH Luis Kannee, St. Brendan, 6-3, Sr.; OH Reece Kramer, Cardinal Gibbons, 6-2, Jr.; LIB-OH Lucas Neves, Monarch, 6-1, Sr.; OH Ray Peterson, Mourning, 5-10, Sr.; OH Daniel Thews, SLAM, 6-2, Sr.; OH-LIB Nico Torres, South Broward, 5-11, Sr.; MH Sam Willinger, Mourning, 5-10, Sr.
1. KILLIAN (Coach Clinton Reid, 20th year at KIL, 24th overall, 336-127). Last year: 26-4 (State runner-up). Top players: OH Christopher Hallstrand, 6-1, Sr.; OH Jomar Mondestin, 6-1, Jr.; MH-RS Spencer Saint-Eloi, 6-2, Sr.; MB Aven Woodley, 6-2, Sr.; DS-LIB Nicholas Estevez, 5-7, Sr.; S Diego Savelli, 5-7, Jr.
2. MOURNING (Coach Dee Rey, 10th year at ATM, 15th overall). Last year: 22-6 (State quarterfinalist). Top players: S-LIB Riain Festge, 5-10, Sr.; MH Sam Willinger, 5-10, Sr.; LIB Andres Delgado, 5-8, Jr.; OH Ray Peterson, 5-10, Sr.
3. COLUMBUS (Coach Pedro Penate, 2nd year, 27-2). Last year: 27-2 (State quarterfinalist). Top players: OH Logan Plummer, 5-9, Sr.; MB Andres Blandino, 6-2, Jr.; S Juan Diaz, 5-9, Jr.; OH Michael Fernandez, 5-8, Sr.; MB Daniel Carrion, 6-2, Sr.; LIB Nick Suarez, 5-6, So.
4. SOUTHWEST (Coach Alex Rivero, 2nd year). Last year: 17-5. Top players: OH Orlando Fletcher, 6-3, Sr.; MH Andres Delrio, 6-2, Sr.; S Justin Lozado, 5-6, Jr.; RS Everett Gilchrist, 6-2, Jr.; MH Austin Still, 6-2, Sr.; OH Liam Gilchrist, 6-2, Sr.
5. ST. BRENDAN (Coach Emilio Urgell, 3rd year, 30-16). Last year: 17-9. Top players: OH Luis Kannee, 6-3, Sr.; S Marc Diaz, 5-11, Sr.; MB Jorge Gonzalez, 6-4, Sr.; OH Gaby Iglesias, 6-2, Sr.; MB Ryan Neyra, 6-2, Sr.; S-DS Carlos Plana, 5-10, So.
6. PALMETTO (Coach Chris Kallinosis, 7th year). Last year: District runner-up. Top players: S Alejandro Escobar, 6-3, Sr.; OH-LIB Luke Arill, 5-8, Jr.; OH-LIB Nicolas Leal, 6-0, Sr.
7. RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Roger Peluso, 17th year at RE, 28th overall). Last year: 20-6. Top players: OH Michael Colonna, 6-5, Sr.; LIB-S Ryan Peluso, 5-7, 7th; OH Jake Rivlin, 6-2, Sr.; S-OH Riss Mendizabol, 5-11, Sr.; MH John Mistele, 6-1, Sr.; RS Sarthak Chakravarty, 6-4, Sr.
8. SLAM (Coach Alfonso Alvarez, 5th year at SLAM, 19th overall, 252-138). Last year: 20-8 (Round of 16). Top players: OH Daniel Thews, 6-2, Sr.; OH Connor Reilly, 6-4, Sr.; S A.J. Alvarez, 5-6, Jr.; LIB Dennis Toledo, 5-8, Jr.; OH Alex Reyes, 5-7, So.
9. CORAL REEF (Coach Yasmin Ortiz, 9th year, 416-230). Last year: 15-9. Top players: S-H Brent Holcombe, 6-8, Sr.; OH-MB Noah Louis, 6-7, Jr.; S Neil Kotun, 5-9, Sr.; OH Schyler Walker, 6-0, Jr.; MB Jason Don, 6-3, Fr.
10. BELEN JESUIT (Coach Jeannell Franceschi, 1st year). Last year: 10-7 (Round of 16). Top players: OH Andres Pinate, 6-0, Sr.; RH Mateus Tordin, 5-10, Sr.; OH-LIB Eric Diaz, 6-1, So.
11. SUNSET (Coach Camilo Gaitan, 10th year, 174-80). Last year: 10-13. Top players: OH Pedro Igorra, 5-11, Sr.; RS David Gonzalez, 6-1, Sr.; S Joseph Igorra, 5-9, Sr.
12. HIALEAH-MIAMI LAKES (Coach Alex Plaza). Top players: MH Abraham Castillo, OH Andrew Uria, S Franky Zamora, LIB Ariel Centurion.
13. NORTH MIAMI (Coach Jimmy Exley, 1st year at NM, 11th overall, 191-64). Last year: 4-6. Top players: OH Olguens Seraphin, 5-10, Sr.; OH Donte Innocent, 5-11, Jr.; OH-S Reynald Laurent, 5-10, Jr.; MH Makerere Williams, 6-3, So.; MH Cavin Thomas, 5-10, So.
14. MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Markia Brown-Seetal, 11th year at MP, 13th overall). Top players: OH Guriency Clodomir, 5-8, Sr.; OH Dandre Symonette, 5-9, Sr.; OH David Lockard, 6-0, Jr.; S Jorge Jebian, 5-7, Jr.; MB Daren Dennis, 5-10, Jr.
15. BRADDOCK (Coach Greg Villareal, 2nd year at BR, 7th overall, 111-44). Last year: 7-14. Top players: OH Brian Hernandez, Jr.; OH-MB George Gibert, Jr.; S Alfredo Arevalo, Jr.; OH-RS Alejandro Menendez, Jr.
16. MATER ACADEMY (Coach Elsa Lopez, 5th year). Last year: 6-4. Top players: OH-MH Angel Bu, 6-3, Sr.; OH-MH Brandon Chiquillo, 6-2, Sr.; S Brian Garcia, 5-9, Sr.
17. LA SALLE (Coach Odette Partridge, 4th year). Last year: 5-16. Top players: MH Derek Bernabeu, 6-4, Jr.; S Nicholas Doismeadios, 5-10, Sr.; OH Patrick Stoodley, 6-1, Jr.; MH Max Diez, 6-3, Jr.; LIB Lucas Blanco, 6-0, So.; OH Tavares Brownlee, 6-1, Sr.
18. SCHECK HILLEL (Coach Andrew Butler, 4th year, 18-7). Last year: 7-3. Top players: OH Jacky Kleinbaum, 6-1, Sr.; S Daniel Assor, 5-9, Sr.; DS Sammy Tryzmel, 5-10, Jr.; S
1. ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Corey Marks, 1st year). Last year: 31-2 (State champions). Top players: OH Leo Dequadros, 6-1, Sr.; OH Omar Hoyos, 6-3, Fr.; MH Jimmy Brooks, 6-7, Sr.
2. CARDINAL GIBBONS (Coach Mike Zarate, 9th year). Last year: 17-8. Top players: MB James Martin, 6-8, Jr.; S-OH Ethan Shinn, 6-5, Jr.; OH Reece Kramer, 6-2, Jr.; OH Mark Cataldo, 6-1, Sr.; MB Austin Cinci, 6-3, So.; S-OH Jace Max, 5-10, Fr.
Ilan Lapco, 5-9, Jr.
3. MONARCH (Coach Walt Drexl, 12th year at MON, 19th overall, 234-150). Last year: 23-3 (Round of 16). Top players: OH Sean Drexl, 5-9, Sr.; MH Leo Pereira, 6-3, Sr.; S-RS Kyle Robertson, 6-1, Sr.; LIB-OH Lucas Neves, 6-1, Sr.; S Tommy Popovics, 5-9, Sr.; RS Aaron Jackson, 5-11, Sr.
4. CYPRESS BAY
5. SOUTH BROWARD (Coach Leo Jimenez, 13th year, 184-85). Last year: 19-4 (Round of 16). Top players: OH Alex Sands, 6-2, Sr.; S-OH-LIB Nico Torres, 5-11, Sr.; MB Patrick Pare, 6-9, Sr.
6. WEST BROWARD (Coach Harrison Albert, 1st year). Last year: 16-4. Top players: OH Jared Strauss, 6-2, Jr.; MB Zachary Green, 6-2, Sr.; S Branden Cabrera, 6-2, Sr.; OH Ryan Williams, 5-10, Sr.; MB Michael Marsans, 6-3, So.; LIB Thomas Klantschi Cox, 5-8, Fr.
7. PINE CREST
8. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Coach Eric Wurts, 9th year at STA, 16th overall, 215-94). Last year: 6-13. Top players: S Evan Wurts, 5-7, Sr.; OS Tyler Thomas, 5-10, Sr.; MH-OH Paul Donnelly, 6-3, Sr.; MH Mike Murphy, 6-3, Sr.; OH Nick Rowe, 6-0, Sr.
9. AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Lori Rembe). Top players: Erick Heymans; Sajiv Chandvasehannan; Jack Esquenazi; Anthony Sibio; Aditya Bafna.
10. NOVA (Coach Angela McBee, 3rd year). Top players: S Justin Lord, 6-0, Sr.; RS Robert Rogers, 5-10, So.
NOTE: Schools not listed did not return outlooks to the Miami Herald.