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Lady Warriors make positive strides

By Naji Tobias

BIG CYPRESS — The Ahfachkee Warriors fledgling athletic program has added another sport this fall season.

The Tribal school’s volleyball team, coached in its first season of operation by Bernadette Schyvinch, is the athletic entity’s fourth sport. The Lady Warriors girls volleyball team joins boys golf (fall), girls/boys basketball (winter) and softball (spring) in the Ahfachkee Warriors sports stable.

For one thing, it has provided a much-welcomed spark to the Big Cypress community. The Lady Warriors played three scheduled home games this season in front of its fans at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress – a 19-25, 22-25 home opening loss to Cape Coral Christian (Cape Coral) on Oct. 3; an inspiring 25-17, 10-25, 15-10 win over King’s Academy (Clewiston) on Oct. 4; and a 18-25, 6-25 loss to King’s Academy (Clewiston) in the Oct. 10 home finale.

“I don’t know much about volleyball, but I do know about our fans,” Big Cypress Tribal Council Rep. Mondo Tiger said just after the Oct. 3 home opener concluded. “Look at the gym. It was almost full. The main thing for us here is to let them know we support them. The girls have a lot of talent in them, and we want to be there for them every step of the way.”

Cape Coral Christian Lady Crusaders head coach Christy Curtis talked briefly about how that Oct. 3 game turned out.

“It was a fun game for us,” Curtis said. “It was good to see both of our teams growing more comfortable out there on the court. I see a good future for the Ahfachkee program.”

The second game, played on the next day, proved to be an inspiring three-set victory over King’s Academy. Ahfachkee seventh-grader Sydnee Cypress hit the team’s game-winning shot in the game, propelling the Lady Warriors to its first win in program history.

“I just wanted to hit the shot over the net,” Cypress said. “It felt good for our team to pull the win out.”

Meanwhile, fellow teammate, junior Danni Jae Tommie, briefly discussed what could have been done differently in her team’s Oct. 10 home season finale loss to King’s Academy.

“I think we should have communicated with each other better,” Tommie said. “But I think we’re starting off good as a team. If we improve our attitudes and play together more, then we should win our last two games of the season.”

The Lady Warriors volleyball team (2-4 overall as of Oct. 21) – the girls opened its season on the road on Sept. 26 in a 11-25, 25-1, 4-15 three-set loss to Hialeah Education Academy and a Sept. 29 three-set road loss to Moore Haven, 21-25, 25-18, 19-25 – finished its inaugural campaign with a three-set road win against Moore Haven (24-26, 25-20, 15-3) on Oct. 20 and the season ender on Oct. 21 against Cape Coral Christian.

“If Ahfachkee sticks together, I think they’ll be a great team down the line,” King’s Academy volleyball head coach Kathy McReynolds said. “They play hard and they’re strong. They have a great school and a great community. I can’t wait to see them next year.”

Schyvinch said it’s been a work in progress for the upstart team, who first came together on Aug. 23. Overall, she’s confident the girls will make continuous improvements in their team game as the 2012 season rolls around next fall.

“It’s a stepping stone; I look at it as that,” Schyvinch said. “The girls are learning as they go along. They’re building in their game as a team and they’ve been working hard together. It will take some time, but everything will come together for them down the line.”

A season-ending banquet, which will recap all the specific highlights of the program’s first season, is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 10.

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