Miami Herald

Beach volleyball preview: Westminste­r Christian aims to be back in title chase in May


For two straight years, the Westminste­r Christian beach volleyball team has been eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual state champion.

In 2022, the Warriors finished 14-1, losing to Vero Beach, 3-2, in the state quarterfin­als.

Last season, the Warriors went 19-2 and lost to New Smyrna Beach, 3-0, in the state final.

Two players from that Warriors team are now playing Division I indoor volleyball: Emily Matias (FIU) and Alyah Cadavid (Winthrop).

This season, the state finals will be May 10-11 in Tallahasse­e, and the Warriors plan to be there with standout players such as Zoey Matias, Gigi Artiles, Alex Washington, Alyssa Cadavid, Cassie Thomas, Francesca Pazmino and Gia Romano.

Zoey Matias, a 5-6 junior, has committed to play indoor volleyball at the University of Missouri.

This beach season, however, Matias will have to find a new partner to replace her sister.

Zoey Matias — who has been playing varsity volleyball since the sixth grade — said she is not frustrated by Westminste­r’s close calls the past two years.

“We worked really hard to get there,” she said of the playoffs. “We have a good mindset. We want to win, but it’s hard.

“Getting to state is super intense and fun. It’s a good experience to be in that position.

“Our team is really close.”

Alyssa Cadavid, a 5-10 senior, and Zoey Matias are perhaps especially close because of a common bond: Both of their sisters have graduated to college volleyball.

“It’s definitely different,” Alyssa Cadavid said when asked about playing without her sister. “I’ve been playing beach with [Alyah] since I was 12.

“Without her, it’s like a

puzzle piece is missing. But Zoey and I have been playing together a lot in practice.

“It’s like we’re each other’s sister now.”

Westminste­r coach Sylvia Guso — a former University of Miami standout in the indoor game — said she’s confident her team will gel on the road to the playoffs.

“We have a lot of younger girls who have stepped up,” Guso said. “They have spent more time on the sand, and their beach volleyball IQ has grown.”

Guso said matching her players correctly is her “toughest” job.

“We’ll listen to our players, too,” Guso said. “We’re in this together, and we’ll get this done together.”


St. Brendan, in just its second season of beach volleyball, is coached by Bianka Solorzano, a 23year-old former Division II indoor player. The Sabres return two standouts who have scholarshi­ps to play Division I beach volleyball: 5-7 senor Danielle Hernandez (committed to Stetson); and Annelise Alvarez, a 5-5 senior committed to FIU. Ana Tobar, a 5-10 senior, is another standout.

Doral has a new coach — Andres Tirado, a 24year-old former graduate assistant at the University of Tampa. The Doral player with the highest ceiling is 5-10 Isabella Frometa, an athletic

eighth-grader who can become a good blocker. Erin McMullen, a 5-11 junior, is the team’s leader; and Salome Velez, a 5-6 sophomore, has the most experience on the team in terms of playing beach volleyball.

Lourdes, which made it to the regional quarterfin­als last year, will be led by two players who have made first-team All-Dade, either indoor, outdoor or both: 5-8 junior Ella Garcia and 6-1 junior Olivia Guzman. Ellie Muniz, a 5-8 sophomore, is another player to watch.

Cardinal Gibbons lost just one player from last season. The program has grown from eight players in Year 1 to 22 now in the third season. Leading the way will be 5-8 senior Hope Faust and 5-9 senior Fabiana Capone.

Carrollton continues to grow its roster with 10 freshmen/sophomores now on the squad. The team lacks ideal size, but Carrollton returns its top players from last year: 5-10 senior Andrea Lopez and 5-11 junior Luciana Lee.

La Salle is led by 5-8 junior Grace Blanco, a smart player who excels on offense and defense; 6-2 junior Helenn Montilla; and 5-8 sophomore Sara Moreno.

Cypress Bay is set to play its first season of beach volleyball. Junior Hunter Crawford and sophomore Julia Diaz lead the way. Twins Sarah and Sophia Ramirez, both juniors, will likely play separately.

 ?? Courtesy of Westminste­r Christian ?? After getting close each of the past two seasons, Westminste­r Christian’s beach volleyball team returns hopeful that it will win a state championsh­ip in the sport’s third FHSAA season.
Courtesy of Westminste­r Christian After getting close each of the past two seasons, Westminste­r Christian’s beach volleyball team returns hopeful that it will win a state championsh­ip in the sport’s third FHSAA season.

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