It was plain to see from the start that Club Attack was in a different world than accustomed. Still, they remained unfazed and brought home a championship.
After going 5-4 over three days of pool play, the team was seeded into the Sapphire Division at the AAU Volleyball Nationals in Orlando. There, they won three matches on the final day to come away with the Sapphire championship and put a nice ending to the AAU season.
The team went 3-0 on the first day and 1-2 each of the next two. They joined teams from all over the United States and Puerto Rico in a highly competitive four-day event.
“It was different,” coach Brantlea Wood said. “The teams and the competition were pretty good. You get to see a lot of players and teams and clubs that you don’t see around here. Some of these girls are playing seven days a week, and more academies instead of just playing a couple of months out of the year. They play all year long together. It’s a different atmosphere down there.”
She believes that played a part in the matchups. Club Attack had not played since taking second at a Myrtle Beach tournament the first weekend of April.
“I think if we had not had so much time off, I think we would have been able to hang with them a little bit better,” Wood said.
In addition, several college coaches were in attendance, which Wood said brought a new level of stress. But she said her players blocked it from their minds.
“I thought the girls handled it really well and they played really well,” Wood said. “Once they got on the court, the rest of the stuff didn’t really matter.”
Wood said the national setup was different than they are used to seeing, adding that they were one game away from getting into the Diamond division.
“The games are important, the games you win and the games you lose, just like any other tournament,” she said. “Usually the tournaments we go to have one day of pool play and the next day is tournament play. (At nationals) you’ve got three days of seeding before you go into tournament play. Every game’s important. They’re competitive, so they like to win, period. One loss, two losses can drop you down more than what it normally would.”
Club Attack defeated a team from Washington in its first match of championship day, then a team from Wisconsin in the semifinals before beating a team from Puerto Rico for the Sapphire championship.
The tournament finished the season for Club Attack, which will say goodbye to Greenbrier East teammates Chylyn Pate and Madison Boswell and Woodrow Wilson’s Kacee Fansler and Hannah Goode. The AAU circuit will begin again after the high school state tournament in mid-November.
Wood is more than proud of the team, which didn’t get to practice until a week and a half before the tournament because many of the players were on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
“Proud is an understatement,” Wood said. “The way that they came together and plated was just awesome. This was truly an amazing year, and this group of girls was amazing.”
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