INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
Or it’s just volleyball.
In a wild ride in the 11 National finals, with boisterous cheering from both sides and a unicyclist tossing out mini-volleyballs to the crowd, the main event was on the court Wednesday at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships.
After Top Select 11 Elite (Florida Region) jumped out to a dominant early lead in game one, things went topsy-turvy, and the Frisco Flyers 11 Rox-Alex (North Texas Region) stormed back to win the match 24-26, 25-15, 15-12.
“Perfect effort … always in all ways,” said Flyers head coach Alex Pagan. “It’s right here on our shirts. That’s what we live by.”
The motto helped the Flyers keep pushing despite being down 10-21 in the first set.
“We had a lot of errors,” Pagan said about the first set. We gave a lot of points away, but we still almost clawed our way back from the deficit to 26-24. And, even though we didn’t get the set, it was huge momentum for us. The girls got lifted up, they got fired up, and they said, ‘look, we’re better than this.’”
While a few of the Flyers are relatively new to volleyball, some, like captain Julianna Hernandez and Alexis Anderson, were part of the 11s team that finished third last year.
“After last year, we said ‘we’re going to come back and upgrade,’” Pagan said. “We’ve had that singular goal the entire year, and that’s all we’ve done.”
Hernandez, who’s played volleyball since she was 5, said there were some nerves in the game, but the team fought them.
“My team played amazing,” she said. “The thing we learned was ‘never give up until it’s over.’ Our coaches kept telling us ‘keep it going, you deserve this, you’ve worked hard all year. Just shake it off and keep fighting.”
Pagan also gave a shout-out to their opponent.
“Top Select is great,” he said. “Hats off to them. They almost served us off the court that first set, and it made me a little nervous. But I told the girls, ‘play simple, not fancy, and good things will come.”
Third place in 11 National went to Madfrog 11s N Green (North Texas Region) and Boiler Juniors 11 Gold (Hoosier Region).
Sport Court is the official athletic flooring for all USA Volleyball national championship events.