The Crossroads of America 13-and-under volleyball team placed fifth in the AAU National Championship tournament in Orlando, Fla., recently. The team: (front row) Assistant Coach Katie Wolber, Mikaela Chagnon, Hannah Hayes, Briana Cook, Ashlen Buck and Coach Amy Adelsberger. (Back row) Beth Mahurin, Madison Steward, Kaylee Clark, Laura Mauer, Mary Kate Etling and Sloan Stephens. (Not pictured) Katlyn Anderson and Lynsey Higgins.
Typically for most 13 year olds, a trip to Orlando, Fl would mean a lot of fun in the sun, perhaps a trip to Disney Land and perhaps some splashing in the surf. But for the 13-and-under Crossroads of American Volleyball Club, their trip involved a bit of business as well as plenty of fun.
The Terre Haute-based squad placed fifth in the AAU National Championship two weeks ago in a tourney field that featured 45 of the nation's top volleyball teams from across the country. Twelve players from across the Wabash Valley made up the team, coached by Amy Adelsberger and Katie Wolber.
North Clay's Kaylee Clark, Hannah Hayes, Ashlen Buck and Briana Cook are a part of the squad along with Clay City's Lynsey Higgins.
The COA squad got off to a bit of a lukewarm start, dropping a 5-25, 24-26 decision in their opener versus the Orlando Volleyball Association's team which put the team on some shaky ground. With an 0-1 mark the team would have to win their next two matches in order to advance into the top bracket of the tournament.
The girls proved they were more than up to the challenge by downing "Via Nola" from Louisiana and "Northern Lights," a team based out of Minnesota.
The second day kicked off with another tall order as the Crossroads squad squared off with a pair of teams from Puerto Rico, an area that is typically a hotbed of quality volleyball teams.
Once more however, the COA team proved up to the task by beating both teams from Puerto Rico and then adding a third straight win on the second day over a squad from Louisville. The team's fifth straight victory bolstered their confidence following what was a grueling day both physically and mentally as each match went three games.
In order to advance to the championship round, COA would have to finish first or second in the three-team pool on day three.
Their first opponent was "Sports Performance" a team out of the windy city of Chicago that had proven to be more than a match for the COA team in two previous meetings this season. But the third time was the charm for COA as they erased thoughts of their previous defeats by sweeping, 25-20 and 25-22.
"Defensive efforts from all and superb offense from Madison (Steward-Honey Creek) ended in possibly the most memorable win of the tournament," commented Adelsberger.
A loss to a third Puerto Rican team did little to deflate the squad's spirits as "Sports Performance" lost both of their matches to send the COA club to the championship bracket.
Heading into the single-elimination final round, COA squared off with KIVA 13-red a powerhouse team renowned for their talented teams.
Crossroads of America dropped the first game 13-25, but did not lose focus on their task. They rebounded to pick up a 25-23 win in game two to force a deciding third game. In that final tiebreaker, KIVA would earn the win by a 15-8 score that does not indicate how close the match was according to coaches. Following the match, KIVA coaches commented about the talent of the COA squad, "I think we finally found some competition," they noted.
The Asics KIVA Red squad based out of Louisville, KY would go on to win the national championship.
Following the record finish for the COA team, Adelsberger praised Buck for her efforts in the final game. "Without the defensive efforts of Ashlen Buck (North Clay), we could not have accomplished what we did against KIVA."
Clark, for one, was happy with the way her squad finished the year saying that, "We ended the season on a good note."
The fifth place finish was the highest any COA team had ever placed in club history and it was also the first time a team had advanced to the championship bracket.
The team consisted of Katlyn Anderson, Ashlen Buck, Mikaela Chagnon,. Kaylee Clark, Briana Cook, Mary Kate Etling, Hannah Hayes, Lynsey Higgins, Beth Mahurin, Laura Mauer, Sloan Stephens, and Madison Steward.