One Game Away: Windermere volleyball team to play in state championship

Windermere High’s volleyball team will face Plant High for the Class 7A State Championship.

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  • | 9:14 a.m. November 17, 2021
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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The pressure was palpable Saturday, Nov. 13, as Windermere went into its final set against Jupiter.

After four sets, the game was tied at two apiece, with both teams trading set victories. The No. 3-seeded Wolverines (27-3) took the odd sets by scores of 28-26 and 25-21. No. 2-seeded Jupiter (25-1) took the even ones 25-19 and 25-14. The winner of the fifth and final set earned a trip to the Class 7A state championship in Fort Myers.

In volleyball, the first four sets are decided by who can get to 25 points. The fifth set goes only to 15 points. 

Windermere head coach Daniel “Omi” Fuentes’ message to his team before the final set was to stay positive and look ahead to the final set after losing the fourth set. 

“I told them to not forget to enjoy the moment and that it would be easier to get to 15 points than 25,” Fuentes said. 

But to begin that journey, the Wolverines needed a little bit of help to get themselves going in that final set. Jupiter held first serve — crucial in any situation but even more so in this one. The ball went up for a serve and looked close enough to potentially be an ace, but the Warriors setter missed the line. That turned the tide for the Wolverines; they were now up 1-0. 

“Our body language changes, and everything turn(s) to a positive attitude,” Fuentes said. 

The Wolverines rode that tidal wave of momentum from that mistake to take the final set by a score of 15-12 and clinch their first trip to the state championship, where they will face Plant High School. 

“It feels good — big step for school history,” Fuentes said of the victory. “It was a great match, and the girls worked hard until the end.” 

Middle-hitter Keondreya “Keke” Granberry was named Player of the Game for the Wolverines. She had 12 kills during the game and came up big when needed. Senior Ana Bleeker led the team with 20 kills. Junior setter Isabel Mulita added 30 assists and two serving aces to contribute to the winning effort. 

Heading into the match, Jupiter sported an undefeated record of 25-0 and was the host. Windermere’s previous opponents in the playoffs — Mandarin, DeLand and Lake Brantley — had a combined record of 69-14 heading into their matches with the Wolverines. 

However, no matter the opponent, Windermere has the ability to keep playing its style of play and dominating opponents. Fuentes attributes this to the team’s preparation and its ability to make in-game adjustments. 

“One of our first topic(s) at the beginning of the season was to understand the importance of the commitment with the program,” Fuentes said. “These girls play for different clubs, and I was honest with each of them since Day 1, so they can understand and agree on what was their role and how important (it) is that everyone works hard.” 


The Plant High School Panthers defeated Doral Academy in straight sets during the other semifinal game on Nov. 13.  

The history between these two teams goes back to 2019, when they met in the regional semifinal. That match came down to a fifth set, with Plant emerging victorious in the end. That was the highest point the Wolverines had reached in the state playoffs before this year. The Panthers went on to lose in the state semifinals to Hagerty, which won the state championship that year. 

As he and his team prepare for the biggest match in the school’s history, Fuentes is hoping to keep his team grounded by taking each moment as it comes but also allow them the chance to enjoy the moment. 

“I want them to have fun and enjoy the moment,” he said. “We will cover some details that we need to get better, based on our last match.”

Fuentes said the keys to success against Plant — which has a 25-5 record heading into the final — are to work on their serves, having good ball control and maintaining discipline during the match. 

“I’m happy and proud of all these girls,” Fuentes said. “Also, I’m very grateful for all the people that support us in so many ways. Definitely it has been a great year.” 


FHSAA Class 7A State Championship 

TEAMS: Windermere High vs. Plant High

WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18

WHERE: Suncoast Credit Union Arena, 13351 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers

TICKETS: Fans can purchase tickets on the GoFan app. Tickets start at $9 with advanced purchase and $12 the day of the game. Parking at the arena is $10.


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