Attending the 2017 Girls Junior National Championship was an experience I won't soon forget. After a season competing against 16's teams in our own region, it was exciting to take our many months of experience to Minneapolis to see how we stacked up against the best 15's teams in the country. We faced teams from the Midwest and as far away as Florida and Georgia too. We fought hard to win some very tough games. Things didn't always end in our favor, but we learned from each loss and came back stronger each match. In the end we climbed 10 spots in the rankings which is better than we were projected to do in this tough National Division. The moments I will always remember are playing on the Championship Center Court and being live streamed by USAV for everyone to watch, including my family all across the country, and having fun in Minneapolis with my awesome teammates and friends! I am proud that our team, Athena 15 Gold, got to represent CEVA on the national level and show other regions that CEVA teams play hard and don't back down! CEVA teams also support each other as Webfoot 15-1 cheered us on during one of our toughest matches! What a great way to show the country what the Columbia Empire region is all about! Jayla Parnell - Athena 15
My name is Joey Hoyt, Libero for AJAX Volleyball Academy 18 Gold. This was my experience going to Nationals. Being our first year at the BJNC, we as a team didn’t know what to expect. We thought it would be similar to our prior tournament in Anaheim based on the knowledge of other teams. When we first stepped into the Greater Columbus Convention Center, we were surprised on how much smaller it was than the SoCal Junior Boys Classic. This is due to the fact that 18u, 14u and 12u play on the first half of the week and the17u, 16u and 15u play on the second half. Our first day of pool play was competitive. We played three best of three matches finishing second in our pool. We lost our final match on Day one to Division 1 VBC from Southern California for first place in our pool. On our second day we played extraordinarily well in our pool and arguably one of the best performances of the season. We thought we were done for the day and had second place locked up going into playoffs. We just defeated a strong team from Ohio in two sets so our team started icing. I iced my back and waited for the final game to be over. This is where it becomes interesting. As a result of the final pool match we now had to play in a tie breaking match against the team from Ohio to see who goes into the Gold, Silver and Bronze playoffs. Unfortunately we lost the one set match 22-25 and took 3rd in our pool which sent us down to the Flight 3 Bracket. The Flight 3 Bracket was not where we wanted to be. We had the first seed position and we played a strong team from Hawaii Pilipa'a VBC in the second round ultimately losing in three sets 15-25, 25-23, 12-15. Overall the tournament was one of the most amazing experiences that we've had as a team. We experienced success and defeat. We came up a little short but we grew and played as a team. I felt I played the best I've ever played and the team enjoyed the experience as a whole. I am so excited for next year! See you in Phoenix at the 2018 BJNC. Sincerely, Joey Hoyt, Libero, AJAX VB 18-Gold
This previous season and year with Athena 15-Gold has been one to remember, not only because of my amazing coaches and great teammates, but also because of our team’s opportunity to compete at the Girl’s Junior National Championship. Having the experience of going to Nationals was humbling, exciting, and most importantly, super fun! It was incredible being able to play against and watch the best teams in the nation. There’s so much one can learn from others, and that’s something that was reinforced to me while in Minneapolis. The first couple of games were tough and even a bit intimidating because we were exposed to such a new environment. However, improvement was made because we overcame the mental obstacles that were keeping us from playing to our full potential. Everyday my team worked hard to find ways to hone our skills to compete against opponents from more advanced levels. On the court, there was a new and different energy that hadn’t emerged throughout much of the season. Everyone seemed to have a strong mindset and desire to give it our all. Being at the GJNC not only changed the way my team worked together, but it gave me a chance to challenge myself more and to continue to grow my passion for volleyball.
Emily Bunnell – Athena 15 Gold
As a team our goal this year was to make it to nationals! We worked so hard all season leading up to nationals because it was such a big deal for us! We rallied before nationals and talked about what it meant being there as a team; that talk really helped us get in the right head space! Once the tournament began we started off really well. We had some tough matches and we battled through them! Ultimately our saddest loss was to Long Beach due to it being such a close game. This is the third year in a row our team has lost to the team winning the whole tournament. But we all played so well and nationals was really a lot of fun! Coach Susan did an amazing job getting us ready for the great experience of nationals!!
Chloe Brown – Athena 17 Gold
Walking into the convention center in Minneapolis was an unreal experience for me. Although I had been to large tournaments like this before, none of them ever felt so meaningful. Playing on the court that first day made me hope that all the months of preparation were finally going to be seen, and sure enough they were. Not only did we prove ourselves on that first day, but throughout the whole tournament. We finished the tournament with a record of 8-2 and won the Bronze bracket! I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go to this tournament and play for my coaches and my club. Nationals provided an opportunity for my team and I to play together as a unit, and finish our last tournament and season together successfully.