TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Last year was an exciting one for the St. John Paul II volleyball team. Despite the challenges with COVID-19, the Panthers played for their first state title since 2009. They lost, but that loss has only motivated them, and they're working hard to ensure a different result this season.
"I think the road to state just exposed us to what that was like," said head coach Emily Serpico. "I think our girls want it all the more this year."
St. John Paul II got that taste but fell short.
"It pushed everyone to push each other, to run faster," said junior Aimee Ijeoma.
"This year we're going to push it to the max," added senior Johana Vicentainer. "This year we're going to win."
It's made this teamwork to make sure they end this season, with a win.
"My goal is that we work so hard now so we can enjoy playing and competing and bearing the fruits of our hard work," said Serpico.
"Coach has pushed us to our limit and even more," laughed Ijeoma. "That's the exciting thing to get pushed so we can be our greatest."
The Panthers didn't have a single senior on last year's rosters, and they're pushing this summer so they can be the best this fall.
"I think this year made us open more and say we didn't take it seriously last year," said Vicentainer. "This year will be a change."
"The experience of the high-pressure moments and rising to the occasion, you can't prepare for that other than to really live that moment as your best," added Serpico.
A moment this team is looking to get to, and this time, walk away on top.
The Panthers, and all other fall high school sports in Florida, can start practicing on August 2. The first regular-season games for volleyball teams can be held on August 23.