With a preseason tournament win under its belt, the Royal Palm Beach High School girls varsity volleyball team is looking forward to a winning season.
The Lady Wildcats defeated Jupiter Christian School in two games, 25-18 and 25-10, and Atlantic High School 25-11 and 25-17 to win the tournament Thursday, Aug. 23.
“They were nervous at first,” head coach Sal Ciano told the Town-Crier. “But they settled down in the second game [against Jupiter Christian]. Jupiter Christian is a good team, and the bottom line is that 25-10 is a pretty good score.”
As the volleyball program continues to grow, Royal Palm Beach continues to have a young team. New this year are three freshman: Leila Belakbir, Crizzy Watson and Bailey Williams.
“[Williams] was on the All-Florida team,” Ciano said. “She was on the Junior Olympic team that played in Colorado.”
But the Lady Wildcats have several experienced starters returning, including third-generation players Bayley and Brianne Cook and Kiersten Abdell.
The Cook twins’ older sisters, Cassidy and Amanda, played volleyball for the Wildcats, along with Abdell’s sisters, Shaina and Kala.
“We’re really proud of that,” Ciano said. “They’re the third generation to come through our program.”
Also returning this year is senior Gabby Marionakis.
Ciano said he has a team of good all-around players.
“They play a pretty good all-around game,” he said. “We have two really good setters, and two other girls on the court who could be setters on anybody else’s team. We don’t get in trouble because people step up and set the ball.”
Additionally, the team has been playing together for several years.
“They all play club together,” Ciano said. “And we’re getting some kids with real talent. We look good.”
Above: RPB’s Crizzy Wilson and Bailey Williams jump up for a block.