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Sideline Scene
Windermere Observer Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 10 months ago

Sideline Scene: Bobcats’ run has been good for local varsity volleyball teams | Observer Preps

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Perhaps the only thing as impressive as the string of four consecutive county championships for the Bridgewater Middle School volleyball team is what some of the team’s alumnae have gone on to accomplish at the high-school level.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

Four years. Four photos. Four groups of smiling faces around a trophy.

Perhaps the only thing as impressive as the string of four consecutive county championships for the Bridgewater Middle School volleyball team is what some of the team’s alumnae have gone on to accomplish at the high-school level and how it all bodes for the upstart program at Windermere High.

Taylor Head helped lead West Orange High to a state championship this past fall.

Anyone familiar with Central Florida’s high-school volleyball scene need only glance at a roster from, say, the Bobcats team in 2014 or 2015 to recognize some familiar names. 

Of course there’s Taylor Head, the standout sophomore outside hitter for the state champion West Orange Warriors. Head was first on the team with 353 kills and second with 245 digs for the undefeated Warriors.

Then, there is Emma McElveen, a dynamic sophomore setter for the Olympia Titans — a state semifinalist for the first time this past fall. McElveen had nearly 800 assists this past season (795) and also 164 digs.

Sisters Angeline and Arianna Bergner were part of the original sand volleyball team at Windermere Prep last spring.

And then there are the girls who suited up this past fall for the first team at Windermere High. The Wolverines’ varsity roster — a roster that took the new program to the FHSAA Class 8A State Playoffs in its first season — includes names such as Erin Welsh, Ava Czyzewski, McKenna Griffitts, Brinley Griffitts, Isabel Acosta, Cassidy Chambers and Katie Boeneman. 

That’s not to mention Bridgewater alumnae on the Windermere J.V. team and girls from this year’s team — such as Ana Bleeker, for instance — who should jump right in for the Wolverines when they arrive on campus this fall.

Emma McElveen was the setter for the Olympia Titans this past fall, helping the team to reach the state semifinal.

Nothing is a given, but parents of players in the volleyball program at Windermere probably shouldn’t make vacation plans for November. 

As a first-year team with a head coach new to the varsity level — Layla West, who coached three of the four championship teams at Bridgewater and came to the new school along with several of her Bobcats — the Wolverines finished as district runner-up before falling in the regional quarterfinals. 

It would not be unreasonable to consider Windermere a dark-horse contender in Class 8A as soon as this fall.

It has been a pretty cool thing to see one local school dominate a sport the way Bridgewater has — especially in a county as large as Orange. It’s been just as cool to watch as those girls have integrated and elevated at the high-school level.

And when you consider a few of these girls may play high-level college volleyball to follow (Head already is committed to Arkansas) the story of the Bridgewater Middle volleyball dynasty hardly seems over.

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for ObserverPreps.com, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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