By: Matt Rothman
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Volleyball team is off to a terrific start to their season. The Eagles come in with a record of 7-2 and a perfect 2-0 record in conference.
Looking for their fifth consecutive winning season after coming off back-to-back district titles, MSD currently sits in first place after a dominating win over Piper on Monday
First-year head coach Daniella Rapaglia hails from Flannagan High School in Pembroke Pines where she coached the men’s volleyball team. So far, she has liked what she has seen from her team and is confident moving forward.
“I’m really looking forward to playoffs,” said Rapaglia “These girls win districts all the time, and I’m hoping I can continue that and bring them further along in the tournament.
In their two conference matchups, MSD defeated Coral Springs and Deerfield Beach in straight sets. They have only gone four sets once this year in a win which came against Pompano Beach.
They also nearly completed a miraculous win over Coral Springs Charter after dropping the first two sets and pushing the Panthers to five despite dropping the match.
Leading the way for MSD has been senior Samantha Blahut. She is the only player who has committed to play college volleyball and next year she’ll be playing for Rhode Island.
So far this season, Blahut has her team-leading 96 kills, averaging 3.4 in a set. She had 21 in a recent game vs. Pompano Beach and added five aces and nine digs in a tight four-set win.
“I am really proud of my teammates for helping me get the kills,” said Blahut.“I couldn’t have done it without them and their support.”
When it hasn’t been Blahut on the attack, the Eagles have a special freshman in Jordan Robertson, who not only has 44 kills which is third on the team, but she also has been a standout on defense with 26 blocks this season. She has played in all, but one set this year.
“Robertson is someone to look out for,” said Coach Rapaglia.
“She is going to really have a good season and is doing so well with her blocks and her kills. We do need to work on her communications —she is very shy.”
The others to play in 29 of 30 sets is Isabella Mercer. The junior has 127 assists which are 19 more than Katie Hefner. Mercer also has added 1.8 kills per set giving MSD even more sneaky offensive power from their setter.
“We just want to come together and see the real potential we have when we get to districts so that when we do get to districts, we can really push forward to get to regionals,” said Mercer.
MSD lost five seniors last season, so they have had to rely on a lot of different players. Kaitlyn Lehecka, the team’s other freshman, played a bit at the beginning of the season, and Coach Rapaglia feels like having such young players, can help in the future.
The Eagles have one sophomore in Jillian Carroll. She has grown to see more playing time after not starting at the beginning of the season. She brings energy to the court, which her coach likes, as it sparks the rest of the team.
Up next for MSD, the Eagles will host a non-conference matchup against the Western Wildcats on Wednesday, September 25 at 6 p.m. The Wildcats are 5-5 on the season but beat the Eagles in five sets last season. MSD will head on the road for two more games before wrapping up the regular season against West Broward on Senior Night.