The Royal Palm Beach High School girls volleyball team had a successful season in 2011, having won a district title — the fourth one in the school’s history and the first in a new district.
The Lady Wildcats went on to defeat Olympic Heights in the quarterfinals and then were stopped by Atlantic in the semifinals.
The Wildcats graduated three seniors and knew that they had a good core coming back: libero Gabby Marionakis, setter/right sides Bayley and Brianne Cook, middle Chambre Brown and middle/outside Kiersten Abdell. Adding to that mix off the bench were Jshanna Perry and Victoria Bailey. Sixth-year coach Sal Ciano was hoping to pick up a few new players and thought that maybe this year would be a rebuilding year. Enter freshmen Bailey Williams, Crichanni Watson and Leila Belakbir to complete the roster.
This past year has been a rebuilding year, which saw the Wildcats’ fifth district championship, a quarterfinal win over West Boca and a revenge win against Atlantic in the semifinals. Royal Palm Beach was one game away from heading to Kissimmee for the state championships for the second time in four years. St. Thomas Aquinas had a different plan for the Wildcats that day.
While losing is never the outcome any team is expecting, Ciano couldn’t have been any happier with his team.
“They [St. Thomas] were bigger than us,” he said. “Are we disappointed? Of course. Being one win away from states is hard, but our girls fought hard and worked hard all year. Regional finalist? We’ll take it. I couldn’t be any prouder of this team.”
Above: The Royal Palm Beach High School celebrates their victory.