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Last team sand-ing

Riverview High's beach volleyball team wins SSAC state tournament.

The Riverview High beach volleyball team won the Sunshine State Athletic Conference Class AA Championship on May 1. Photo courtesy Tim Britt.
The Riverview High beach volleyball team won the Sunshine State Athletic Conference Class AA Championship on May 1. Photo courtesy Tim Britt.
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Riverview Rams beach volleyball championship roster

Madison Binkley, senior
Carlye Perrigo, senior
Noa Askren, senior
Ella McMullen, senior
McKenna Flaherty, junior
Maggie Wyatt, junior
Isabella Motta-Zacks, junior
Alexis Durish, junior
Courtney Bates, sophomore
Isabella Boyd, sophomore
Quinn Shaner, freshman
Kennedy Flatch, freshman
Sarah Riley, freshman



It came down to one final match-up. 

The Riverview Rams beach volleyball team, undefeated through the regular season, found itself in a tussle with Bishop Kenny High last week in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference's Class AA state title match. It was the final match of a two-day tournament in Tavares, held April 30-May 1, to determine the best in Florida, and it was tied 2-2. The Rams' No. 1 and No. 2 pairs had won their individual match-ups, but their No. 3 and No. 5 pairs had lost. 

It came down to a battle of No. 4 pairs in a best of three-set match. Seniors Carlye Perrigo and Ella McMullen, were ready for the challenge. They won the first set, meaning winning the second would clinch the championship. 

"We were up for a good amount of time [in set two]," Perrigo said. "Then the other team starting picking up more points. Ella and I got together and said, 'We need to pull it together quick.' There were a few nerves, but we were good about keeping each other up."

Perrigo and McMullen would recover from Bishop Kenny's run and dash any thoughts of a comeback. They won the set. Perrigo said she will never forget the ball hitting the sand and turning to see her teammates running toward her in celebration. For Perrigo, the moment was extra sweet. The victory was her final volleyball match, not just in high school, but in her competitive career. Perrigo said closing out her time in the sport with a championship, surrounded by people she loves, was a perfect way for it to end. 

Rams coach Annie Howard said her veterans have been motivated to win a title for two years, after finishing as the runner-up in 2019 and losing the 2020 season to the pandemic. After stewing on the 2019 championship loss for so long, Howard said, Riverview came into 2021 with a different level of focus. Beach volleyball is typically seen as less intense than indoor volleyball, but the Rams, who have four players committed to college beach volleyball teams, took it just as seriously. 

That doesn't mean they didn't have fun. Perrigo said the night before day two of the state tournament, the team, its coaches and its supporters had dinner together at Olive Garden. There were about 40 people in attendance, Perrigo said, and the seniors were getting emotional so close to the end of their final season. They also laughed a lot, and took photos of each other. It was a special night, Perrigo said, and representative of how close the team has become over the years. 

The championship brings area recognition to the sport at a pivotal time. The Florida High School Athletic Association has approved beach volleyball for the 2021-2022 school year, though whether a state championship will be held in year one is still up for discussion. Howard said she is looking forward to the sport joining the FHSAA, a move that she hopes will both bring more attention  state-wide and more financial support. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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