While most teenage siblings are bickering, Michelle and Melanie Cuervo were able to make history in the Miami-Dade high school sports scene.
Michelle, 17, and Melanie, 16, were the first female volleyball players to be selected to the first team All-Dade County since the awards began in 1974.
The duo has played together for nearly a decade with little sister Melanie as the setter who provides big sister Melanie with assists to produce highlight reel plays and points. Additionally, the tough sisterly love had helped each other improve as athletes.
“I was very fortunate because she has to tell me what I have to fix to become a better player and help the team win every game,” Michelle said. “Without her, I could not accomplish anything. She understands the criticism comes from the heart.”
Their family and coaches noticed a unique chemistry between the two since they were 7 and 8 years old, respectively. But even before that Michelle recalls seeing her father’s volleyball players playing and hoping to join in.
“My dad was a coach at Sunset, and I remember being 3 or 4 years old and wanting to spike the ball,” Michelle said.
Growing up in a volleyball family, the pair continued to play together and received accolades in each one’s freshman season at Ferguson High School.
“At high school was when we stepped it up,” Michelle said. “You have to have a dog mentality. When you play against a team at the same or higher level, you have to player better than any other player on the court and go after them. We began to train harder, and now I know our work ethic will take us far.”
However, their career as high school teammates ended in 2017. They finished their last high school game together for Ferguson in the state semifinal this year, but Michelle’s work ethic and skills as an outside hitter has landed her a scholarship to Quinnipiac University next school year — an accomplishment Melanie feels is well-deserved.
“This past high school season, we went to state semifinals,” Melanie said. “It was emotional because we are not playing clubs together. We just connected well the entire season. I think she has developed into an amazing player, and she is ready to go to college.”
Because of the sisters’ close bond, they were able to spend three years as high school teammates where their relationship as teammates and sisters was able to flourish due to a professional respect and caring for one another.
Brutal honesty and an intangible chemistry helped the sisters enjoy their last season as teammates; however, as Melanie enters her junior year, she is already looking into Quinnipiac University’s volleyball program.
“I think it would be great to be reunited because of the school’s academics and because playing with my sister again would be a dream,” Michelle said.
Both sisters have had the luxury of a partner on teams who is constantly diligent and cognizant of the other’s dreams. The sisters act as each others’ biggest fan and motivator, which they hope leads them to continue to reach their joint professional goals.
“After college, I hope to possibly play for a professional team to gain more experience and then maybe even coach to impart knowledge to the next generation,” Michelle said.
Melanie’s plans happen to be nearly as identical.
“I have to agree with my sister. I also am thinking about playing professionally and coach in the future. Being reunited with my sister would be ideal.”