Mourning’s volleyball team doesn’t worry about another team’s record or reputation.
It showed Tuesday night against previously undefeated Columbus.
“We’re not scared of who anyone is,” Mourning senior hitter Will Zuluaga said. “Whatever your record might be, you’re going to get a great game from us and we’re going to 100 percent on the court.”
The Sharks made quick work of the Explorers during a 25-15, 25-12 victory on their home court that secured their second consecutive GMAC championship.
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Zuluaga paced Mourning (19-5) with four kills, five blocks and three digs and junior setter Riain Festge finished with three blocks and 12 assists. Walter Delgado also had three kills. Zuluaga totaled 19 kills and 18 digs for the tournament and Festge had 35 assists combined for the semifinal and final.
The Sharks trailed by only one point early in the match and remained consistent throughout, going on scoring runs of eight points in a row in both sets against Columbus (23-1).
“The key was to keep calm and no matter what focus on one point at a time,” Mourning coach Dee Rey said. “We had a really good flow and that’s what we do in practice. We run a lot of drills where if we get a kill, you got to give me five in a row and help keep our mental composure.”
Rey credited her team’s tournament experience against some of the state’s best for their dominant performance Tuesday, which also included wins over Miami High and Palmetto. She hopes it will also translate to further advancement in the postseason and perhaps a chance at winning their first state championship.
“Playing state champions multiple times showed us what it takes to play at a high level of volleyball we brought that into play [Tuesday],” Festge said.
Versatility has also been a major factor in the Sharks’ success.
Festge, an All-Dade first team libero as a sophomore, switched to the setter position in the middle of the season after starting setter Kevin Gutierrez broke his right ring finger during a match while blocking a shot.
Festge has excelled in the role as he did Tuesday when he combined for 35 assists in the final two matches.
“One thing about this team is that the guys on this team know how to play multiple positions,” Rey said. “No one sticks to one spot on the court. All of them can play middle, outside, set and play defense.”
Semifinals - Mourning d. Palmetto 25-21, 25-16: Will Zuluaga 9 kills 3 blocks 5 digs. Ray Peterson 7 kills 1 block. Riain Festge 2 kills 1 block 23 assists 7 digs; Columbus d. Killian 25-27, 31-29, 15-13; Quarterfinals - Mourning d. Miami High 25-17, 25-21: Will Zuluaga 10 kills 2 aces 10 digs. Ray Peterson 11 kills 4 digs; Palmetto d. Sunset, 25-14, 25-19: Hugo Henry 12 kills, 2 aces; Alex Brown 6 kills, 6 points; Nate Parker 5 digs, 5 points; Andres Cowley 23 assists; Killian d. Hialeah Gardens 25-16, 25-13; Columbus d. Hialeah-Miami Lakes, 25-16, 25-21