Posted: Jun 21, 2012 10:46 AM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports
Updated: Jun 21, 2012 10:49 AM
MISSOULA- No Montana-based volleyball club had ever won a regional tournament until this April, when two squads from the same academy spiked their way to a championship in Spokane.
The Montana Volleyball Academy based in Missoula now owns a couple of titles and our athletes of the week tell us, they're looking for even more.
"They played really well. There was a lot of compliments from the coaches of the other region, like, wow. This team is really balanced. It's really good," MVA U-18 coach Nate Michael said.
"It was really exciting. Some of us got kind of emotional. And it was just really happy to find out that we are going to Junior Olympics," added MVA U-12 outside hitter Cassie North.
The regional championships won by the MVA U-18 and U-12 squads now gives the girls another big chance to shine as they'll head to the National Championships in Ohio.
"I am so excited to play those really good teams. Those girls over there are going to be just ridiculous. I just want to go over there and show them what real Montana girls can play like," MVA U-18 defensive specialist Sadie Ahearn said.
The two championship clubs share more than just practice space as both coaches come from the same family. Nate Michael leads the U-18's, and his wife, Grizzly volleyball assistant, Allison Lawrence coaches the U-12 girls.
"That's been one of the most special things about it, is just having Nate as support, and a fellow coach that I look up to," Allison Lawrence explained.
"We spend a lot of nights after practices talking about the practices. What did you do? How did that work? And how are we going here? And it's really fun that we get to take the trip together," Michael added.
Marilou Jones started the Montana Volleyball Academy six years ago as a place for home schooled kids to play and now they suit up more than 10 teams, bringing in players from as far away as Kalispell and Great Falls. Now, seven members of the U-18 squad will play college volleyball next year.
"Huge legacy. And we're all so excited just to see, you know, this club is just going to keep getting bigger and better. And I'm really excited to come back from college and see how it's doing," MVA U-18 outside hitter Hannah Sackett said.
"You can compete at the highest level, and have it be fun. Have it be all about being a good teammate. Have it be part of good life skills. I think it says the club's values are in the right spot," Lawrence concluded.
The U-18 squad will begin play at the National Championships in Columbus Ohio on June 28th and the U-12's start the next day.