They did it.
It took the program nearly 20 years to do it again and the current players nearly two years, but the Wesley Chapel Volleyball Team accomplished the goal the players set well before this season started.
The Wildcats (23-6) made the Class 5A state tournament.
“We’ve had these players that have poured their hearts out for this team for the past two, three, even four years,” sixth-year-coach Brittany Collison said. “In the end, they accomplished our goal and it’s amazing to see how far some of them have come.”
Unfortunately, the season did come to an end for the Wildcats after a 3-0 (27-25, 25-13, 25-21) loss to Naples Barron Collier on Nov. 5 in a state semifinal match. It ended a season that saw Wesley Chapel win its first conference title (undefeated in regular season matches), its second-straight district championship and its first regional championship for these players.
“We spoke to them after the game and told them they should be proud,” Collison said. “To do all the things they set out to do, accomplished them, to get to the state tournament for the first time since 2003, that’s pretty huge. In no way does (losing in the state tournament) diminish what they accomplished this season.”
The Wildcats also will say goodbye to Chloe Danielson, arguably one of the best players in program history. Danielson finishes her career with 1,031 kills, including a team-high 241 this season and a school-record 375 in her junior season.
“It’s, obviously, so sad to lose her,” Collison said. “To see how far she’s come for her whole high school career and just see her for four years, it was incredible.”
While losing seniors Danielson and Jenna Ly (a team-high 451 assists), a number of skilled players are returning.
Those include the next top three team leaders in kills: juniors Lizzie Ekechi (195), Grace Korta (184) and Emma Letourneau (164). Also entering her senior year next season will be Brooke Ashkenase, who led the team with 337 digs.
“Just two core seniors, who will be missed, but all those juniors are a core part of the team,” Collison added. “Our million juniors — Lizzie, Brooke, Grace, Emma — it was incredible to see how hard they worked, even in the offseason, so it’ll be great to have them all back next year.”
And the Wildcats will need those players, as they look to continue their winning ways and secure the program’s third state tournament berth.
That’s just another goal already set forth to be accomplished.
“I mean, it wasn’t the outcome we hoped for, but it was still an incredible season with an incredible team that looks to do it again next year,” Collison said. “This season, we got to where we wanted to be and we just want to do it again already.”
Published November 09, 2022