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High School Athlete Fights Ruling That She Can't Play On Boys' Volleyball Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A star high school athlete wants to know why she was suddenly cut from the boys' volleyball team.

As CBS2's Ilana Gold reported, the teen said she was informed just days before the first game – and without any reason.

"It may be the worst feeling," said Anyela Aquino, 17.

Aquino just had her volleyball dreams crushed, just months after helping her girls' varsity team win the city championship.

"Having people tell me, 'No you can't play,' hurt me; like, hurt me really bad," she said.

The senior at Dreamyard Prep in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx ranks as one of the top high school volleyball players in the country.

She planned to play on the school's boys' volleyball team this season for more practice, before she heads to her college team in the fall.

"I feel if I play with them, it's going to, like, help me, you know? Help me as a player to get better," Aquino said.

Aquino said she passed the required physical and the boys' coach put her on the roster. But then, two days before their first game last week, she got banned from the team without explanation.

"It hurts me they because aren't telling me a reason why," she said.

The players on the boy's team likewise did not understand.

"We were all surprised. We were like, 'Oh wow, we can't believe it.' We really thought we were going to get her this season," said senior boys' volleyball player Diosnelbi Bonilla. "As a player, she's great. I think she's even better than the boys, to be honest."

New York state guidelines say girls are allowed to submit a request to play on the same school's boys' volleyball teams. But a panel with the New York City Public Schools' Athletic League has to review each student's case, and it goes to a vote.

In Aquino's case, the vote was no.

CBS2 contacted the public schools' athletic league to find out why that decision was made, but no one there would comment. Instead, they referred CBS2 to the city's Department of Education.

The Department of Education in turn released a statement: "Allowing students to play on both the boys and girls team for the same sport during a school year decreases opportunities available for other students."

But Aquino is not backing down.

"I have the skills to play with them," she said.

Aquino said she is planning to fight the ruling and fight an appeal.

State guidelines say boys cannot play on the girls' volleyball teams for their schools.

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