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THE ORLANDO SENTINEL
Ricardo Quintana: A Tough Climb To The Top
By Shannon Rose | Sentinel Staff Writer
May 22, 2003
Ricardo Quintana barely could breathe. His head ached. His throat felt scorched, and his body burned with a fever.
But misery would have to wait. Quintana, a senior at Cypress Creek, had other commitments as his boys volleyball team competed in the inaugural state tournament last month in Palm Beach.
Nothing was going to keep him off that court, much to Oakland Park Northeast's chagrin when the 6-foot-2 hitter hammered 33 kills in a semifinal victory.
"I'm the type of player who will play, no matter what, if I'm needed," Quintana said. "If I can physically jump, then I'm playing."
Few things could stop Quintana on the court as well. That is why he was selected as the Orlando Sentinel's Central Florida Player of the Year for boys volleyball.
A year-round player and a passionate competitor, Quintana finished the season for the state runner-up Bears (26-4) with 365 kills, 201 digs, 91 blocks and 32 aces.
He was all over the court, making big plays, no matter where the rotation took him. The bigger the game or moment, the higher Quintana elevated his performance.
Part of Quintana's passion comes from the doubters who said he never would make it to college, saying he "wasn't college material." He wanted to prove everyone wrong and earn his own way to college.
After he moved to Florida from Puerto Rico when he was in middle school, Quintana started playing volleyball in school. His game improved with practice to the point that he became the go-to player for Cypress Creek's boys volleyball team.
No game was bigger for the Bears than the state play-in showdown with undefeated Timber Creek. The winner moved on to the state tournament.
Quintana played tenaciously, digging up 30 balls that were launched by the Wolves, particularly the smack-down duo of Arturo Rivera and Peter Odahowski. They weren't easy balls to get to, let alone scoop up, but the digs made it possible for Cypress Creek to go on the offensive.
It's those defensive digs that gets Quintana the most hyped.
"People will be scared of hitting the ball to me," said Quintana, who loves staving off his opponents' kills.
But it's Quintana's own powerful kills that created the biggest stir. With a 38-inch vertical jump, Quintana is intimidating on a setup.
"He is able to jump so high, we are able to score from him in the back row or the front row," Cypress Creek Coach Sandy Longoria said.
Longoria used different stacks to keep opponents guessing where the ball was going and to try to disguise Quintana. With Nicky Perakes, Carlos Alicea and Aaron Diaz also providing attacks, the Bears put up a diverse offensive front.
Still, teams focused their game plans around Quintana.
"He's a weapon pretty much anywhere on the court," University Coach Matt O'Callahan said. "His jump serve is vicious. You couldn't relax when he went to the back row."
Now Quintana's opponents in college won't be able to relax either. His energetic play earned him a spot on the team at Mount Olive College in North Carolina, a program that also recruited several of the players from state champion Southwest Miami.
"I worked hard for it," Quintana said.
Nothing less would be expected.