Story and photos by Tamas Mondovics
Bloomingdale High School Lady Bulls volleyball team closed last season with a disappointing 3-2 district playoff loss to Strawberry Crest. The girls were up by two games, but failed to keep the momentum going, ending the otherwise solid season with a 14-5 overall and 5-2 district record.
But, that was then, and this is a brand new season, under third-year program Head Coach Claudia Cabrera, and her assistant coaches.
“I have full confidence in the girls’ ability and determination to go much farther this year,” Cabrera said during a recent practice. “We will be focusing a little bit on everything, but we have great leadership and a positive spirit on and off the court.”
Cabrera’s confidence stems from a great turnout for the 2016-2017 season’s tryout, which saw close to three dozen students, of which 30 were selected to make up this year’s Class 8A District 9 varsity and junior varsity teams.
“I see a lot of potential in these players and I believe that my way of coaching helps them achieve their goals,” she said.
The Bulls are facing a tough district, which once again includes Strawberry Crest, and nearby district rival Durant. The girls also face Plant City, East Bay, Lennard, and Tampa Bay Tech.
The good thing is that this year’s team has three returning seniors; Emily Doyle, Natalie Mack and Andrea Brito, who bring both experience and leadership to the program and are ready to take on the Spartans and the Cougars.
“We had a tough loss at the end of last year, which we are not about to repeat,” Doyle said, adding that the team is much more experienced as well as determined to do better. “Our goal this season is to play every game strong from start to finish.”
Brito agreed when she added that as a team the girls are much closer and are like a family, which she believes is vital for success.
“We are here to support each other, which helps especially when things are not going well on or off the court,” Brito said.
Emphasizing that all credit goes to Coach Cabrera and her faith in the team’s success, Mack put things in perspective when she said during a quick break from practice, “She pushes us hard and is tough on practice, but it is what we need. She wants the best for us.”
There is little doubt the girls are hungry to reach this year’s district round for a chance to prove their title-worthiness as well as their desire to go farther. While there is much work to be done, it is safe to say that the team is ready to give it all from start to finish.
Fo more information about the Bloomingdale girls volleyball program, visit www.max preps.com.