Originally published on http://rise.espn.go.com
Written by: Nicole Saavedra
Photo by Todd Anerson
Team from Fort Worth, Texas wins tight three-setter over Academy Volleyball Cleveland
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The first time was the charm for the TAV VB Rags 15 Black.
TAV sent its first 15u team to the AAU Junior National Girls’ Volleyball Championships this year at the ESPN RISE Girls Showcase. They’ll return to Fort Worth, Texas with the title after a 25-18, 24-26, 15-9 win over Academy Volleyball Cleveland on Tuesday.
“It’s unbelievable,” Cat McCoy said. “We wanted this all season. We got second in a lot of big tournaments and we wanted to break the curse. It’s an amazing feeling for everyone.”
TAV easily grabbed the first set and looked poised to take the second, but allowed Academy to crawl back in. TAV had a 19-14 lead when Academy won five straight points.
“We really thought we had it, I think, in Game 2 and kind of let it slip away,” head coach Jason Nicholson said. “You could tell the nerves started to get them a little bit, they started to feel like we were going to achieve what they wanted to achieve and kind of let it get away from us a little bit.”
They hit the reset button before starting the third.
“[Coach] told us that we needed to relax and take a breather and not be so tense, because all the cameras and stuff got us all freaked out,” McCoy said. “He told us to take a deep breath and play our game.”
McCoy admits that she got a little nervous after Academy tied it up.
“I was scared for a second, because we wanted it so bad,” McCoy said. “I didn’t want it to slip away. I knew we could tough it up.”
McCoy, who finished the game with 20 digs, may have been rattled, but Kendall Werra wasn’t.
“I knew we could still pull it off and stay together even though we went to the third,” Werra said. “I knew we could win it.”
TAV had survived close matches earlier on Tuesday. They topped Asics Munciana Ninjas 25-21 21-25, 15-10 and earned a 28-26, 20-25, 15-8 win over Asics KIVA 15 Red in the semifinals.
“Munciana and KIVA were tremendous teams and came out, much like Academy, with firepower and kept balls in play,” Nicholson said. “The girls really just stepped it up. We kept ourselves in some rallies, limited mistakes and played good volleyball.”
TAV will try to extend their success at the USAV Nationals in Atlanta, Ga., next week and they’ll have the memory of Tuesday’s win to motivate them.
“We toughed it out through all of our aches and pains, and overall, I’m so proud of us,” Malery Wahlin said. “It was great, it was amazing. The best feeling of my life.”