FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Team Florida won six medals and four division titles at the 2017 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships, which concluded Saturday, at the Broward County Convention Center.
Florida won gold medals in Girls International Youth, Girls National Select, Boys Regional and Girls Future Select. They also took the silver in Boys’ National and the bronze in Girls’ National Youth.
And the team won the Girls National Select division for the fourth year in a row.
Team Florida’s Anne Fitzpatrick earned the MVP award in the Girls’ International Youth division with Florida defeating USA Select A1 White in three, 25-12, 25-16, 25-22.
“That was probably like the best experience I’ve ever had,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’ve never done something like that and I feel really accomplished and really proud to be on a team to do that. We worked really hard to get there.
“We came out really hot,” she said. “We played our hardest the first two sets, got ‘em done quick, but then the third set we kinda let them comeback, gave them some momentum. But we had that fire inside of us that allows us to come back and win the whole match.”
Then Fitzpatrick, talking about her teammates, captures what this event is all about …
“I really love this team. I mean I’ve never played with any of them. I’ve always been their opponent across the net. I thought it was really cool to come and play with them at such a high level. They’re all such hard working people. It was really fun to be surround by people with the same mindset as I do.
How long have you been together as a squad?
“Umm, seven days.”
The Southern California Youth International team had five practices before this competition, like all of the USAV HP teams and the 75 region teams from 21 RVAs. But SCVA came together rather quickly, defeating the USA Youth squads … Red, White and Blue … all three.
They made it to the finals playing Team Ontario that has been practicing as a unit since July 2. But this Canadian crew is part of a four-year program and some of the players have been training together for the last three summers. They are preparing for the 50th Canadian Summer Games, pitting province versus province; it’s a big deal and it begins on July 28 in Winnipeg.
Ontario won in four sets 26-24, 25-19, 24-26, 28-26 in one of the best matches of the day.
But for the players, the experience of the HP Championships was the important takeaway.
“The experience was great,” said Daniel Matheney of SCVA’s Youth International team. “I came in not really knowing anybody. It’s amazing how we formed a team. We were connected and we all bonded. It was just a great experience to know that these guys have my back too. I had fun playing with these guys. Now I have (new) friends. I love these guys now.”
Have your goals changed in the last week?
“I definitely went into this tournament not expecting as much of myself, but now knowing what I can do, I think from here on out, I’ve got to set big goals for myself.”
In 10 days, Matheney will join his new teammates on the USAV Boys’ Youth National Training Team for a two-week camp in Lake Placid to determine the U.S. roster for the FIVB U19 World Championships.
“I’ve got to go into Lake Placid battling,” he said. “I’ve got to battle for that spot to go to Bahrain.
“It’s a really great feeling to know that you’re capable of much more than you think that you are.”
By the end of the night, the three medalists from the Women’s International Junior division were congregated around the Texas Star photo booth and they were all happy. They were talking about maybe getting some ice cream.
The HP Championships are different. The emphasis is on getting better, improving the pool of talent across the board and, for the athletes, making friends.
Isabella Ashburn, MVP, of the Women’s International Junior division, echoed the sentiments of the other athletes.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but the girls were so amazing and so welcoming,” she said. “Our team clicked instantly. It was really cool to see, in that little time, how close this team has gotten.
“It feels like a whole season has gone by in 10 days.”
The event is showcase for young talent 13-to-18 years old being evaluated for future USA Teams; a mix of training and then a five-day of competition (July 18-22).
There were 1,700 players on 130 teams. Many of the U.S. teams (75) are age-based regional all-star teams competing with national teams from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Peru and Bermuda.
This was the sixth time the HP Championships were held in Fort Lauderdale.
Women’s International Juniors
(born in 1997 and after)
Gold: USA Youth A1 Red
Silver: USA Youth A1 White
Bronze: USA Select A1 Red
Boys International Youth
(born in 1998 and after)
Gold: Team Ontario 18U
Silver: SCVA Youth International (Southern California)
Bronze: NCVA Junior Red (Northern California)
Girls International Youth
(born in 2000 and after)
Gold: Team Florida GIY (Florida)
Silver: USA Select A1 White
Bronze: USA Youth Continental Red
Girls National Youth
(born in 2000 and after)
Gold: GEVA Girls’ Youth (Garden Empire)
Silver: KRVA HP Girls’ Youth (Keystone)
Bronze: Team Florida GNY (Florida)
Girls National Select
(born in 2002 and after)
Gold: Team Florida GNS (Florida)
Silver: Iowa Select Black (Iowa)
Bronze: Lone Star Select A1 (Lone Star)
(born in 1999 and after)
Gold: SCVA Youth National (Southern California)
Silver: Team Florida BNY (Florida)
Bronze: SCVA Select (SCS) (Southern California)
(born in 1999 and after)
Gold: Team Florida BRY (Florida)
Silver: Texoma Select Black (Lone Star)
Bronze: GEVA Boys’ Blue Select (GEVA)
Girls Future Select
(born in 2004 and after)
Gold: Team Florida GFS (Florida)
Silver: Arizona Girls FS (Arizona)
Bronze: Ohio Valley Future Select (Ohio Valley)