The Mourning boys’ volleyball team advanced as far as it has in its five years, but it was overmatched against defending state champion and winner of 59 consecutive matches Longwood Lyman in Saturday’s state semifinal.
The Sharks fell in straight sets 25-17, 26-24, 25-15 against Lyman (29-0), which had only dropped three sets all season entering Saturday, at Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale.
While Lyman advanced to the state final for the second consecutive season, Mourning players and coaches gathered outside the arena, sharing hugs with tears in their eyes as they held one final gathering to embrace the history they made this season.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” coach Dee Rey said. “The week before districts we finally got that set [lineup], and it just moved on from there.”
The Sharks (19-7) ended up winning District 12, reaching states after a play-in win against Hollywood McArthur, and then winning a marathon five-set match against Boca Raton on Friday to reach the semifinal.
“Toward the end of the season, we finally got into our groove and we stayed positive,” said senior middle hitter Pedro Carvalho, who had a team-high eight kills and four blocks Saturday against Lyman. “We finally played as a family to come as far as we did.”
It was a rather remarkable run for a group of players that do not play much club ball and are mostly converted athletes from the school’s basketball, football and soccer teams.
“It was extremely impressive, not playing club the way these guys do, having dual athletes, it was huge,” Rey said. “It says a lot about our coaching abilities, our players’ resiliency.”
Mourning could not recover from a devastating second-set loss to compete in the third.
The Sharks led 21-18 and held set point at 24-23 — on the verge of handing Lyman its fourth lost set of the season — but the Greyhounds rallied to score three in a row, including an ace by Kenneth Lawrence to steal the highly-contested set.
“They’re very clean, they side out, they stay positive, they have a diverse group of players,” Carvalho said. “They’re very hard to beat.”
Senior Daniel Barrera had seven kills, a dig and a block. Nicolas Triana-Puentes had 11 assists.
Julian Moreira and Alex Silva each added three kills. Defensively, Riain Festge and Erick Nascimento tied for the team lead with seven digs.
Mourning had a difficult time dealing with the Lyman attack, which was led by 17 kills from Stanley Kiersnowski, who led the team with 195 on the season.
Lyman showed why it had only lost three sets all season entering Saturday from the start, winning a 25-17 first set by minimizing its unforced errors.
Mourning had five seniors play their final match of their high school career.
That number increases to nine next year, and there is optimism that the experience they gained as juniors can help the team reach even further heights next season.