High School Sports

Killian, Archbishop McCarthy advance to state semifinals

The beat never stops when Archbishop McCarthy is playing.

During the pregame huddle, in between points, even while changing sides in between sets, the Mavericks are clapping, chanting and even singing.

“Whenever we keep that energy going on in between sets we feel like we can’t be beat,” senior setter Luis Vazquez-Ugalde said. “It’s something that’s caught on and now the parents and the fans have gotten in on it. It’s intimidated other teams this season just with the energy and the way we’re loud throughout the match.”

Mourning did its best to disrupt the Mavericks’ rhythm Friday.

But the defending state runners-up showed resilience both on and off the court to pull off a 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23) victory over Mourning in a state quarterfinal at Golden Gate High School.

“These guys are really scrappy every point that makes it over you just have to hope they miss,” Vazquez-Ugalde said. “You can’t make mistakes and go 100 percent every single point.”

The Mavericks (25-2) will take on Orlando Lake Nona in a semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday. Should they advance, they would play in the state championship game later in the day at 4 p.m.

Killian outlasted Columbus in a thrilling five-set classic in another quarterfinal and will play Riviera Beach Suncoast at noon in the second semifinal Saturday.

Vazquez-Ugalde’s perseverance after injuring his shoulder during the match inspired McCarthy. The injury forced him to leave the match in the second set. In his absence, Mourning (22-6) tied the match at one set apiece.

Vazquez-Ugalde reentered the match in the third and helped McCarthy retake the lead. He finished with a match-high 28 assists.

“Vazquez’s will to get out there and come back from that was huge,” McCarthy coach Karen Frank said. “This group, most of them, has been together for four years so this has been their hopes and dreams for all of that time.”

Mourning, which was making its fourth consecutive appearance at state in its program’s seventh season, took a 16-10 lead in the fourth set and nearly sent it to a decisive fifth.

But senior Michael Moreiras (10 kills, six digs), along with James Brooks (15 kills, three blocks) and Ozzie Fernandez (13 kills, five blocks) helped the Mavericks break a 23-23 tie and secure the match.

“We have a lot of resilience and a lot of fight and this team knows what it takes to get to the next level,” Mourning coach Dee Rey said. “We were hitting their weaknesses and that’s why we went to four sets. But that’s a great team. Our guys were in it all the way through, but it was just mistakes.”

Mourning senior Will Zuluaga finished with 22 kills and at several points in the game, made key plays that kept the Sharks in the match. Riain Festge finished with 28 assists. Mourning returns nine players next season and Rey said she has numerous players ready to come up from the school’s JV team.

▪ State quarterfinal — Killian d. Columbus 29-31, 25-16, 19-25, 25-19, 17-15: Killian went the distance in a match against Columbus earlier this season before falling short in three sets at the GMAC tournament.

The stakes were much higher Friday.

Christopher Hallstrand’s match-clinching kill in the fifth set secured the Cougars’ first trip to the state semifinals since 2007 and dealt Columbus only its second loss of the season.

“This match was so intense,” Hallstrand said. “It was so equal and we really had to fight to push on. You can tell just by looking at the scoreboard how incredible this was.”

Killian (25-3) fell behind twice in the match and each time came back to win the ensuing set and push the match to the limit.

The Cougars got a balanced effort from its front line of Jason Harris, Hallstrand, Marquis Ramsay and Jomar Mondestin.

Columbus (25-2) earned a match point at 14-13 in the fifth, but its ensuing serve went long, allowing Killian to stay alive. Ramsay, who finished with nine kills, came up with the two most important moments later to give Killian a pair of match points. Hallstrand, who finished with 15 kills, finished things off after Ramsay’s second spike found the mark.

Gabriel Campo had 52 assists to lead Columbus. Alexander Suarez finished with 15 kills, and Patrick Gatcliffe and Jorge Gonzalez each had 12 kills.

“I know this team has what it takes to do this,” Killian coach Clinton Reid said. “There are many players on this team that we know we can depend on, and we did [Friday].”