The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports Editor 

U14 Gold spikers get good experience playing top competition


Joni Fahlenkapm

NATIONAL QUALIFIERS: Goldendale's U14 Gold volleyball team poses for a team pic at the Minneapolis Convention Center during the USAV National Girls Junior Championships.

Although the Goldendale U14 Gold volleyball team had yet to win a three-set match at the USAV National Girls Junior Championships in Minnesota as of Tuesday night, the girls are gaining crucial experience of playing against the best of the best which will only aid the team in the coming years.

After most of the team flew into Minnesota last Saturday, the team went right to work the next day with three games on Sunday and three games on Monday, competing in the 64 team U14 American Division at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The team wasn't able to win a set until Tuesday afternoon's crossover match, there they fell in three sets to a team from Idaho.

"Nationals is a different story," Mitchell said. "When you come to nationals, you're playing against the best in the country."

The tournament wasn't over for Goldendale though. They played in a single elimination tournament game today at 10 a.m. PST but results were unavailable for print.

Mitchell said her team played some tough matches against teams from Texas and Ohio, and pretty much teams from all over the country were in attendance.

In all divisions, there 1,264 total teams competing throughout the week in Minnesota.

Mitchell and the team knew going in they would be matching up with better teams than they've played all season. She knew there would be some tough, high-pressure matches that would only benefit the team going forward, win or lose.

"There was a lot of pressure," Mitchell said. "It was a good experience to play under lots of pressure."

Despite the win-loss record for the U14 team at nationals, playing at the level of competition they did will be nothing but positive as the girls get older and continue playing in high school.

The old sports cliché rings true in this scenario. "To be the best, you have to play the best." It's especially good that the middle school spikers are playing the best at a young age, because Goldendale High School also has a tendency to schedule nonconference games against slouchy competition across all sports.

Goldendale also had a first-hand look at a lot of the older teams competing, watching what Mitchell said was Division I talent.

Joni Fahlenkamp

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: The team takes another group picture upon arrival at nationals in Minnesota.

The team stayed at the Quality In about 15 minutes outside of Minneapolis. The team also explored the Mall of America when they weren't busy playing or watching volleyball at the convention center, and some even rode the rollercoaster inside the mall.

Reaching nationals was the combination of the girls drive all season long and the determination to make it farther than any Goldendale club team had in the past.

The team set its sights high at the beginning of the season, looking to advance past the regional tourney and into nationals. They did, and became the first club volleyball team from Goldendale to advance to the national tournament in the club's 13 year history.

The team qualified for a spot in the national tournament at the Regional Bid Tournament on April 21 in Spokane.


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