Archbishop McCarthy’s Omar Hoyos goes up high for a kill shot during Friday night’s state quarterfinal match against Orlando Celebration at Boca Raton High School. Hoyos led his team to a close five-set victory and a berth in Saturday’s state semifinals.

Archbishop McCarthy’s Omar Hoyos goes up high for a kill shot during Friday night’s state quarterfinal match against Orlando Celebration at Boca Raton High School. Hoyos led his team to a close five-set victory and a berth in Saturday’s state semifinals.

For the Miami Herald






With the pressure of a decisive fifth set determining who would move on to the state semifinal and whose season would come to an end, the Archbishop McCarthy boys’ volleyball team was right were it wanted to be on Friday night.

Taking on Orlando Celebration in a state quarterfinal, a hard-fought, evenly played match came down to who would make it to 15 first in the fifth set. With 6-7 Omar Hoyos leading the way, McCarthy came through with a big 3-2 (24-26, 25-14, 25-16, 16-25, 15-11) victory at Boca Raton High School.

The win puts McCarthy (23-6) into Saturday’s state semifinal, but the task will get no easier for the Mavericks, who will set their alarm clocks and be back at Boca Raton at 10 a.m. to take on the state’s No. 1 ranked team, 29-2 Orlando Freedom.

Hoyos finished his long night with 19 kills, 7 digs and 7 blocks, while Evan Welch (15 kills) and Raymond Lindo (8 kills 7 blocks) also came through with big games.

“We’ve been in a lot of tough five-setters all season long so it was no big deal to us,” said Hoyos, just a junior who is fielding major college offers and listed BYU, USC and Pepperdine at the top of his list. “It was just a matter of us all coming through with big plays when we needed them. We were confident the whole way but now we know we’ve got another tough one in front of us in the (Saturday) morning.”

If McCarthy can navigate its way past Freedom, it would find itself in the state championship match at 6 p.m., which would mark only the third title game in program history and a chance to win its second state title, the other coming in 2016.

“I can thank a trip to Chicago we made a few months ago because I think we went to deciding sets in every one of those out-of-town games,” said McCarthy head coach Corey Marks, who played for the Mavericks from 2009-12 and was an assistant coach on the state title team. “I told them we’ve been here before so let’s just go out there and do what we know how to do and that’s exactly what they did.”

Southwest 3, Boca Raton Spanish River 1: It didn’t start well for the Southwest boys’ volleyball team, but it ended just fine.

In a match that started late Friday night and didn’t finish until well past midnight, the Eagles overcame a sluggish start to knock off Boca Raton Spanish River 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-20).

The win puts the Eagles, 22-4 and ranked No. 2 in the state, back into the state semifinals where they will take on Lake Worth Park Vista on Saturday at noon. A win would put them into the state championship game against the winner of Archbishop McCarthy and Orlando Freedom.

“A little bit of a snag at the start tonight but the kids did a great job of not panicking and the effort was just terrific as they stayed focused,” said Southwest coach Alain Suarez. “We eventually started playing Southwest volleyball and made them adopt to us rather than us allowing them to dictate to us which is what happened in the first set.”

After Spanish River (14-9) controlled the first set, eventually the amazingly powerful and dynamic front line of Jack Hershman, Daniel Pupiro and Miguel Espinosa began to take over. The Eagles pulled away from a 17-17 tie in the second set, going on an 8-3 run to close things out before completely dominating the third set.

“Maybe we were a bit nervous at first but eventually we put our game together and took it from there,” said Hershman, the team captain who had a huge night with 25 kills. “There were a lot of unforced errors at first but we have a great deal of confidence in ourselves and never panic or get down on each other. We all rely on each other and that’s the key to winning.

Southwest will go after the program’s third state championship having won the previous two in 2003 and 2008.

“Tomorrow? We’ve worked our tails off to get back to this point and felt like we were good enough to win it a year ago,” said Hershman. “We see nothing getting in our way. We are really confident. We trust our work ethic and feel like we can bring this home.”

Lake Worth Park Vista 3, South Broward 0: The disappointment was etched all over head coach Leo Jiminez’s face.

Having lost in the state quarterfinals each of the last two years, Jimenez was hoping his South Broward players would tap in on that experience and come out with a sense of urgency on Friday night when the Bulldogs squared off against Lake Worth Park Vista in a state quartefinal.

But that simply wasn’t the case as Park Vista (25-4) rolled to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-23) victory at Boca Raton High School to advance to Saturday’s state semifinals.

“Extremely disappointed tonight because they all went out there and played as individuals,” said Jimenez. “The teams that advance at this point are the teams that play collectively together as a unit and for whatever reason, it just did not happen tonight.”

The Bulldogs (18-10) didn’t quit though. Down to their final breath, trailing 24-16 in the third set, they staved off seven consecutive Park Vista match points to cut it to 24-23 before Vista finished off the match with a service ace.

Orlando Freedom 3, Belen Jesuit 0: The combination of a first-time trip to state and taking on the No. 1 team in the state turned out to be a bad combination for the Belen Jesuit boys’ volleyball team on Friday afternoon.

The final result: A 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-23) loss to Orlando Freedom in a state quarterfinal match at Boca Raton High School.

The Wolverines suffered from a case of nerves early on as the more experienced Patriots, ranked No. 21 nationally by MaxPreps and No. 1 in the state, dominated the first set and most of the second.

“For sure, the stage was a little bigger than what it had been better before and it got us in the way that nerves were definitely a factor early on,” said Belen head coach Friedman Sifontes. “But I give the kids a lot of credit. They didn’t slump their shoulders and get discouraged, they started playing better and fought back.”

Sifontes referred to Belen’s third set in which the Wolverines (24-5) settled down and started playing significantly better against the taller Patriots (29-2). Belen fought all the way back from a 15-7 deficit to eventually tie the set at 20 but never could quite take the lead.

“Yeah, it was our first time but to be honest, we went in thinking all the pressure was on them (Freedom),” said senior outside hitter Eric Diaz, who led the way for the Wolverines with 10 kills. “They were expected to win and we weren’t but we definitely struggled early on. The third set we settled down and started playing better. Our passes were sharper and we played better defense. If we could’ve pulled that set out, maybe that would’ve given us the momentum to come back.”

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