INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Pingdom is alive and well.
TAV 17 Black, coached by Ping Cao, lived up to its No. 1 seed by capturing the 17 Open title Friday at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships.
That one word … ‘Pingdom’ … was emblazoned on TAV’s warm-up T-shirts, and they lived up to the phrase by taking the crown.
It wasn’t easy, though. TAV (North Texas Region) had its hands full with Mintonette Sports m.71 (Ohio Valley Region), squeaking out a 29-27, 18-21, 15-12 win. Captain Katherine Lang, still visibly emotional 10 minutes after the final point, had some difficulty describing the amazing feeling of being a national champion.
“I am overwhelmed with joy,” Lang said.
Lang immediately moved on to describe the work the team put in with Cao, who she said has a “reputation for being the hardest coach to play for in 17s and TAV.”
“We put in so many hours; we worked so hard this season,” she said. “It’s all worth it. He’s always made us better, and it’s all been for this. I couldn’t imagine not winning the national championship.”
TAV has a tradition of winning at the nationals, but last year Lang and many of her teammates finished fifth in 16 Open. In fact, Lang said there have been only minor changes to the team since they were 14.
“We have a sisterly bond,” she said. “We hang out outside of volleyball. Even in practice when we are focusing, we are still having fun. It’s what made this season easier on us.”
For his part, Cao was of course proud of the team, but he also gave credit to Mintonette.
“They are a very good team,” he said. “We just needed to focus on our game, and how we prepared. We don’t focus on too far away.”
Many of the TAV team are already committed to college, including division MVP Iman Ndiaye, who recently announced her commitment to UCLA.
Sport Court is the official athletic flooring for all USA Volleyball national championship events.
Eastern Iowa Xtreme 17 Teal (Iowa Region) stormed through the 17 National bracket undefeated to win the title.
Xtreme’s toughest match was saved for last, as it beat silver medalist Elevation 17 Goller (Ohio Valley), 25-22, 17-25, 15-13. Elevation’s only loss prior to the final was an 0-2 defeat at the hands of EC Power (Chesapeake Region), which tied for third along with Rage VBC 17 Rick (Northern California)
TAV 17 Blue (North Texas Region) gave Texas Advantage its second national title of the day with a 25-19, 17-15 victory over Forza 17 UA (Southern California Region).
NPJ 17-1 National (Columbia Empire) and Wave 17 Nate (Southern California) tied for third.
Livewire 17 adidas
Taking place at the same time, at almost the same pace, as the 17 Open final, the gold medal match between Livewire 17 adidas (Arizona Regoin) and A2 17 Green (Ohio Valley Region) provided similar exciting moments.
It was the second meeting between the squads this tournament. Livewire won the first in two sets, but under the pressure of the final, it was a harder battle. A2 won the first set, 25-23, before Livewire stormed back 25-21, 15-12 to win the match.
NIVA 17 FRFR out of the Heart of America Region scored a 25-21, 25-22 win over Texas Shock 17 (Lone Star Region) for the Patriot title. Third place went to EU U17 Black (Heart of America) and Black Swamp 17 (Ohio Valley Region).