By CHERE SIMMONS
Lennard varsity volleyball is alive and well.
At press time the girls’ Longhorn varsity squad is boasting a 5-1 record. Last season ended with a disappointing 2-10 record. The 2019 squad has already exceeded that. The junior varsity team has faced two opponents this season and are currently 1-1.
“They’re very coachable and eager to improve,” said Head Coach Tierinee Taylor of Ruskin. “They listen, and they really want to learn the game from all angles.”
Taylor is very familiar with the court at Lennard. She played volleyball there for four years, graduating in 2011. Taylor also played and coached intermural volleyball at Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers while earning her degree in education. Her full time occupation is as a third grade teacher at Wimauma Elementary.
“I love coaching this team even more than I thought I would. I’m getting to know the girls and forming relationships off the court as well,” said Taylor. “I have high expectations, and the girls are meeting me there.”
Rounding out the coaching staff of the Lady Longhorns is Taylor’s sister, Tiffany Meredith. Meredith also graduated from Lennard and played volleyball there for three years. She is now an administrative assistant in the Lennard front office.
“Tiffany sees the players as individuals, pointing out their strong points and weaknesses,” said Taylor of her assistant coach. “She notices all the little things and will take a player aside and work with her. I look at the team as a whole, working together like a machine. I think that’s why we work so well together.”
More than 42 girls tried out this year, and every girl on the team has previous volleyball experience.
Standouts on the varsity team, which includes six seniors, are captains Mia Bulso and Corrie Rogers, who are both excellent attackers. Freshman Alexandra Platt is the team’s libero. The libero is a defensive specialist. She wears a contrasting jersey color. When the ball is not in play, the libero can replace any back-row player, without prior notice to the officials.
“Mia is a natural talent and leader. She works hard, and she is very confident in the team’s ability,” said Taylor of senior Mia Bulso. “She challenges her teammates and is always encouraging them.”
The varsity roster includes Anaya Pyatt, senior, #8; Mia Bulso, senior captain, #5; Corrie Rogers, senior captain, #1; Melanie Aponte, senior, #14; Gabriela Simmons, #6; Zandri Perez, senior, #2; Alexandra Platt, #3; Elianna Galvan, #11; Sederanessya Lewis, #13; Alanys Nuñez, #10; Victoria Diaz, senior, #12; Aleese Knight, #15 and Natalie Nicosia, #14.
You can follow the team on Instagram @lennard.volleyball.
The team suffered its first loss Monday night against Middleton. “I was so proud of their energy and sportsmanship throughout the match,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s outlook for the remainder of the season is glowing. “There are a lot more wins in our future.”
The Longhorns play at 7 p.m. tonight (Sept. 19) at East Bay.
9/19 @East Bay
9/23 @Tampa Bay Tech