High School Insider: Manta Rays volleyball soaring; Barron hires veteran lacrosse coach

The Marco Island volleyball team celebrates its win at the Oasis tournament Saturday. The Manta Rays are off to a 12-1 start, already establishing the school record for victories in a season.

Last year, the Marco Island Academy volleyball team reached double-digit victories for the first time in its nine-year history.

The Manta Rays are even better this year.

Marco Island won the Oasis Tournament over the weekend, the first tournament it had ever been invited to. It defeated Oasis, Mariner, Everglades City and Lely in pool play, and then defeated Oasis again in the championship match. The 2-1 victory over Lely was Marco Island’s first over the Trojans in any sport.

“Winning this tournament has multiple meanings for us,” Marco coach Alyssa Stolinas said. “We proved to the more prominent public schools that we can compete with them. It was also a great confidence boost for my girls. They always knew they could compete at a higher level, but now they have proven it to themselves.”

The victory over Lely was especially memorable, as many of the Manta Rays players grew up and are friends with the Lely squad.

“You always know Lely will be well-coached and ready for any challenge,” Stolinas said. “You know you have to play your best to compete with them. We did not get to play them last year, and we did not have the opportunity to play them on our schedule this year, so it was nice to be able to see them in this tournament. … Showing that we were able to play with and beat one of the better teams in Collier County will help our program grow. I am hoping we can get Lely on the schedule every year because it would be a fun game to look forward to each year.”

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Marco Island (12-1) has already exceeded last season’s win total by one — previously the best campaign in school history. The Manta Rays are coming off a conference championship, but they’d like to compete for a district title and qualify for the state playoffs, Stolinas said. Marco Island’s starting lineup consists of outside hitters Camryn Rose and Skye LaButte, middle hitters Casey Erickson and Morgan Maile, setter Lauren Faremouth, libero Virginia Lowe, defensive specialist Ellie Ball and opposite hitter Virginia Lowe. Faremouth and Ball are the lone seniors in the starting lineup.

Barron Collier hires veteran lacrosse coach

Barron Collier has hired a new lacrosse coach, one with more than 40 years experience coaching and officiating.

Maryland native Rick Faby has been an assistant for McDonogh in Maryland, a team that went a decade without losing a game.

Faby has worked in the financial industry for companies like Morgan Stanley and Benjamin F Edwards over the last 40 years. He and his wife Lauren have had a residence in Naples for several years, and they plan to move to Southwest Florida full-time in the coming months.

“I’ve been to a few games at Barron Collier in different sports and the school spirit there is unparalleled,” Faby said. “The students really rally behind the athletic program. They’re also a tremendous academic institution. I want to help the girls play lacrosse in college — that’s one of my main goals.”

While the sport is still relatively new in Southwest Florida, he sees plenty of potential.

“I want to see the game grow here,” Faby said. “We’ve already had a player meeting and had nine players there that were very good athletes that had never played lacrosse before. Where I’m from, the kids play the game from the time they’re three. But I’ve found if you’ve got a tremendous athlete, you can teach them the game, but you can’t teach athleticism. So we’ll have some fall beginner practices for the girls who haven’t played, and we’ll get them up to speed.”

FBA to honor service members at football game

First Baptist Academy will hold its first Salute to Service game Friday evening against Community School.

World War II veteran Florence Weinstein will join FBA and CSN captains for the coin toss, where she will be honored with Pappy Wagner, a decorated World War II veteran who fought at Iwo Jima. Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk will also participate in the coin toss.

Area gold star families will be recognized on the football field. Special Forces Airborne will be playing “The Sounding of Taps” under the direction of Command Sergeant James R. Burch.

FBA alumnus Jeremy Giovinazzo is slated to perform the national anthem, where he will be escorted by retired NYPD detectives Marty Giovinazzo and Kevin Madden, along with the Collier County Sheriff Honor Guard.

Finally, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office will perform a flyover prior to the start of the game.

Private 8 Conference set to host inaugural swim meet

The newly-formed Private 8 will be hosting its first meet as a conference next week in Collier County.

The eight conference members are Bishop Verot, Canterbury, Community School of Naples, Evangelical Christian, First Baptist Academy, Seacrest Country Day, Southwest Florida Christian Academy and St. John Neumann.

"For the individual events like swimming, golf and cross country, it's going to be cool to see how this one tournament goes," Canterbury athletic director Frank Turco said. "Give Scott Guttery and Jason Baumgardner a lot of credit. (This conference) is going to take on it's own identity, and hopefully it'll be exciting for all the parties involved."

"It's a great opportunity that we all got together over a year ago," Community School of Naples athletic director Bart Weiss said. "Lee and Collier County have their own athletic conferences. This gives the kids the ability to have pride in a conference." 

Follow Naples Daily News sports writers Alex Martin and Andrew Sodergren on Twitter: @NP_AlexMartin and @NDN_ASodergren. For additional coverage on sports in Southwest Florida, follow @ndnprepzone on Instagram and @NDN_PrepZone on Twitter.