Bishop McLaughlin High School hosted the 2021 Florida Gem High School Classic at the Wiregrass Sports Complex in Wesley Chapel. Fifteen volleyball teams participated in the two-day event, and among those fifteen teams were the Lady Hornets representing Weeki Wachee High School.
“What I am really excited about for us, is why we came here. That we’re seeing different levels of competition,” said Noemi Rivera. “Playing local teams, it is really easy to get complacent. It is great to see outside talent, and if you move on to regionals you are going to see these big teams; you’re going to see a different level of playing.” This is true! Those different levels of skills and the combination of court/net talent playing in these competitive tournaments are the best opportunity to learn different ways of how and when to protect the net defensively.
What the Lady Hornets took from this tournament was that “winning isn’t everything.” In order to appreciate the game, a loss is actually a gain, a way to learn how to increase and improve on their court strategies and net techniques by playing more competitive, fast matches. And these were quick matches. The courts were tight and there was no space to relax nor room to rebound from errors. “I told the girls it could have gone either way, and it could have gone really bad or really good. We did really well. Coming into a fast-paced tournament, we definitely stepped up, and I’m really proud of those girls,” said Rivera.
Facing Steinbrenner may have been a reality check for the Lady Hornets but in a good way. Just because they didn’t win the match doesn’t mean that they can’t win by taking in the things they learned from the match.
- Won against Tampa Bay Heat 2-0 @ 25-23, 25-20
- Lost against Steinbrenner 2-0 @ 5-25, 11-25
- Won against Hudson 2-0 @ 25-20, 25-20
- Won against Land O’Lakes 2-0 @ 25-19 25-17
- Loss against Lakeland 0-2 @ 25-12 25-23
“Volleyball is a game of momentum. If we get lax and we play down, it can be anybody’s night. Just like that, volleyball can change hands quickly before you know it and get out of control. I like to keep them levelheaded, for example, you’re not the biggest fish in the tank. At any given moment, you can get knocked off,” said Rivera.
The tournament created a lasting impression for the individual players and teams.
“It was a pretty good experience, I learned a lot. I learned that we could go harder and we can do anything that comes our way,” said Senior Naomi Charles.
“I think this weekend overall we did really good. I feel like it pushed us to do different things and we worked together,” said Senior Grace Colleran.
“I think this type of play was a lot faster and quicker and I think it made the team better. We all bonded a lot better,” said Junior Courtney McDermott. For Courtney McDermott, she and other juniors will be filling those empty areas on the court after the seniors graduate next year. And to know early on the role the seniors play is important. “I look up to them. They set a really good example for me. Hopefully, I can do as good as they do, and I want to be as great as they are,” said McDermott
The Lady Hornets will have a couple of challenges for the season, especially when taking on Lecanto for the second time. Their last match-up was quite an event to start the season.
Set 1: WW 28 Lecanto 19
Set 2: WW 34 Lecanto 32
Set 3: WW 20 Lecanto 25
Set 4 WW 25 Lecanto 21
The match is set to be played on the Lady Hornets home court on September 30th, but not before participating in another tournament. The girls will travel to Fivay for the two-day Fivay Invitational Tournament on September 24th and 25th. The Hornets are currently at 7-2 for the 2021 season.
A few words from Naomi, Grace, and Courtney to their team: Naomi said,“I love you guys so much, through thick and thin. You got it!” Grace said, “I am so proud of everyone on the team for pushing hard and working together even when times are rough and we feel like we can’t do it. I am just really proud of everybody coming together.” Courtney remarked, “I want us to all go as far as we possibly can. I feel like we all did our best and we can definitely go very far if we keep this up.”