NEW PORT RICHEY — The seven seniors on Mitchell’s volleyball team have played together since seventh grade.
Together they’ve learned the fundamentals, practiced a cheer chanted before every game and made regionals last season.
This year, they told each other, they would go out with a bang.
Mitchell (23-5, 9-0) hosts district runnerup Osceola (14-9, 6-2) in tonight’s region semifinals. If the Mustangs win, they’ll battle Venice (21-7) or Barron Collier (16-5) for the region championship Saturday and be one victory from the state tournament.
Daniele Green, one of those seven seniors, is a key factor in Mitchell’s success. The outside hitter had 19 kills against Hillsborough in the quarterfinals last week, leading the Mustangs to their 19th consecutive win.
Green has 304 kills in 76 sets this year, doubling her stats from last year in a similar number of sets played. She’s also had 308 digs and 54 aces.
Mitchell coach Keith Paulk said she’s a key hitter and very flexible.
“She makes the other team work,” he said.
Paulk said she can hit the ball regardless of how it’s set, from any position. That speed and intelligence during matches make her formidable.
And it’s no wonder she’s so talented considering she’s played the sport her entire life.
She owes that to her older sister, Jennifer, who played at East Lake High and in club volleyball. Green plays for No Name Volleyball, which is coached by Doug and Sarah Chinchar. (Doug Chinchar also has another playoff contender in Bishop McLaughlin, which he coaches.)
Green looks up to her sister, who is seven years older, and followed her example to play in high school, but there are a few differences between them. Jennifer didn’t play volleyball in college, and Green plans to. Jennifer lives in New Jersey, but Green doesn’t want to leave Florida.
Green said she’s had a few offers from schools outside of Florida, but they haven’t tempted her.
“I want to stay close to my family,” she said. “FAU is my dream school.”
Green has her own path mapped out. Unless she receives an offer from an in-state school, she plans to start at a community college, where she can play on the volleyball team, then transfer later.
She wants to study economics of business, a dream that does follow her siblings’ example. Her brother studied business, and her sister studied economics.
“I have people who will help me,” she said with a laugh.
That sense of community and family is one of the things Green likes about volleyball, as well.
Paulk said with the season the Mustangs have had, there’s undeniably something about them that clicks — and Green is essential to that.
“She’s not the hardest hitter we’ve ever had,” Paulk said, “but she’s one of the smartest.”
7 p.m. Tuesday
6A: Osceola at Mitchell
5A: Anclote at Fivay
3A: Bishop McLaughlin at Tampa Prep
Mary Kenney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maryknews.