Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plenty of unfinished business for Mitchell volleyball

TRINITY — Their previous trip to New Smyrna Beach turned out to be a joyride, resulting in the Mitchell Mustangs' first spot in the state volleyball semifinals.

So when Mitchell took the same journey last November, a similar outcome was expected.

The memories still haunt.

"We were thinking it's going to be an easy win. Let's go, let's beat them and get on to the next team," recalled Mariella "Pupa" Haimes, one of the Mustangs' standouts.


"It wasn't like that."

Fortunately for the Mustangs, stunned in straight sets at last year's region final, almost the entire band is together for one last shot at a state title.

Although band is not their favorite word, at least not now.

The three-hour bus ride home from New Smyrna was made in silence, but for the noise ringing in the Mustangs' ears.

"There was a lot of chaos, because the band came," said Jessie Mooney, a former Tampa Bay Times' North Suncoast Player of the Year. "They had a band in the gym and they would play during the timeouts."

Normally Mitchell head coach Heidi Michaels' instructions don't fall on deaf ears, but this was different.

"We were already flustered, because we wanted to win so badly," said Mooney. "We called a couple of timeouts, but when we (did), the band was playing — we couldn't hear our coach trying to tell us how to get out of it. And it just got worse."

Apart from preparing their musically proficient classmates for a possible repeat meeting — and hopefully, if so, at home — with the Barracudas, what else is there for the Mustangs to improve upon?

"Chemistry" is the brief answer from Michaels, who wants to make sure that the lone key departure works seamlessly into the lineup. Setter Brie Tsamis graduated, and Kamdyn Mohr will slide into that role.

The urgency for all the parts to work together is heightened, with front-liners Mooney, Haimes, Morgin Tew, Emily Mohrmann, Mallory Coleman and Selena Kriston all seniors.

Newcomer Megan McCain will challenge Mohr, with Kennedy DeLuca the only returning regular who is not a senior. The 6-foot middle is a junior.

"It's always been easier with chemistry for us because we've played together since the seventh grade," said Haimes.

The chemistry with Haimes and Mooney revealed itself during their interview Monday, at least three times one seamlessly finishing a sentence the other started.

They'll definitely be taking separate paths after this season. Mooney is committed to Valdosta State University (Ga.), where former Mustang Kayla Widera is entering her junior year.

Haimes could easily latch on as a Division I-A libero, which aligns with her 5-foot-6 frame. But she's chosen to go the beach volleyball route.

"It was tough," she said of the realization that her height would inhibit her indoor college pursuits. "I decided not that I'm settling, but I don't want to be a libero in college and I'm really not tall enough to go D-I. And I do enjoy beach a lot."

But right now her eyes, same with Mooney's, are trained on getting back to the state tournament. Mitchell, after defeating New Smyrna in 2015, won a thriller at Ocala Forest before losing in the state title match.

Mooney says the team, without overlooking anyone on the schedule, is trying to prepare itself to play at a region level.

It's not a stretch considering the Mustangs have won five straight district titles.

And, should they end up advancing to another possible region final, especially against New Smyrna? Mitchell plans on making the most noise this time.

"We might learn to play instruments. It's definitely going to be incorporated somehow," Haimes said.

Plenty of unfinished business for Mitchell volleyball 08/17/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 5:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. USF defense feeds on Temple offense to take NCAA interceptions lead


    TAMPA — Backed up in his end zone, Temple quarterback Logan Marchi scrambled, trying to elude a USF defensive end coming straight for him. Until then, Marchi hadn't had much luck hitting his receivers.

    South Florida Bulls safety Devin Abraham (20) sacks Temple Owls quarterback Logan Marchi (12) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, September 21, 2017.
  2. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  3. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  4. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    The Rays still talk about having a shot to make the playoffs. But recognizing and correcting mistakes will help them next year, such as Mallex Smith trying to steal third in the first. "Those are the little things we've got to find how to eliminate real quick," manager Kevin Cash said.