Standing Out in the Crowd at GJNC
USA Volleyball Junior National Championships Interactive Page
DALLAS (June 28, 2013) – In the Dallas Convention Center packed with thousands of players, coaches and fans, standing out on the first day of the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships in Dallas can be tough to imagine. For Encore Navy 18-1 (Northern California) from Redwood City, Calif., standing out was not a problem.
From the first glance, the Encore Navy 18-1 team screams a resounding "look here." Talented athletes across the roster and two coaches dressed in neon colored shoes, socks and tank tops make this group hard to miss.
"You look good, you feel good, you play good," Encore Navy 18-1 Head Coach Jennifer Agresti said after the team’s first win against Orange County 18 Nike (Southern California Region).
"It's true," laughed Encore Navy 18-1 Assistant Coach Chloe Goldman.
For Agresti, standing out comes naturally. "I've always matched everything - shoes, sports bra, shorts," she said. "That's just my personality."
The pair led their 12th seeded team to the first win versus No. 20 Orange County Volleyball Club 18 Nike (25-18, 25-21), who had been a season rival team.
"Look good, feel good, play good" is not just a saying, but it's a philosophy for Encore 18-1. In 2012, the team finished with the bronze medal at Nationals, but this year they are looking to take home the gold in the 18 Open Division.
"We had a lot of late bloomers on our team last year and we fell just a little short," Agresti said. "These kids came back really hungry. They got a taste of a color of a medal. They really want the gold medal and are trying to stay focused on that."
The team was put to a test in their first tournament match against Orange County Nike 18, who had beat them earlier in the season at the Vegas Southern California Qualifier.
"It feels good (to get the win)," Agresti said. "We came off a hard loss not qualifying at the Vegas Southern California Qualifier. I think this morning they were a little bit nervous, but they got that first game out of the way, so it feels good to come back and play the way that we should have in Vegas."
After shaking off the nerves, this stand-out team has their eyes on the prize. Humbly and hopefully, Agresti and Goldman believe they can reach their goal. The team set off on the right path taking first in their pool on day one after defeating AVA Texas 18 Team Rox (25-18, 25-21) and ASICS MAVS 18-Blue (25-20, 25-21).
"We will take one game at a time and just focus on who is in front of us, handle them and hopefully make it to the end," Agresti said.
Kyra Holt, an outside hitter on Encore Navy 18-1 believes that their preparation and leadership is ultimately what will get them to the gold.
"Our coach pushes us every practice, every second of the game," Holt said. "She pushes us to stand out and we have worked really hard and hope to come out on top."
Like many 18s team coaches, this is the last Junior National Championships Agresti and Goldman will have with these players as they will set off to begin their college careers. During this bittersweet time, Agresti offers some advice.
"Always believe in yourself," Agresti said. "Your freshman year I think there are times when it's a little bit rocky and you question actually playing at a high Division I level. Just believe in yourself and keep pushing hard and you will all be very successful in your college careers."
Whether it is the neon attire or the or the team's glowing passion, Encore 18-1 is sure to stand out at the 2013 Girls' National Championships.
"By the end of this year the team was starting to light us up which is a promising feeling."
USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships Schedule and Final Results
11 Patriot: June 28-30
12 National: June 29-July 2
12 American: June 29-July 2
13 National: June 28-July 1
13 USA: June 28-July 1
13 American: June 28-July 1
14 Open: June 30-July 3
14 National: June 30-July 3
14 USA: June 30-July 3
14 American: June 30-July 3
14 Patriot: June 30-July 3
15 Open: July 1-4
15 National: July 1-4
15 USA: July 1-4
15 American: July 1-4
15 Patriot: July 1-4
16 Open: July 2-5
16 National: July 2-5
16 USA: July 2-5
16 American: July 2-5
16 Patriot: July 2-5
17 Open: June 29-July 2
17 National: June 29-July 2
17 USA: June 29-July 2
17 American: June 29-July 2
17 Patriot: June 29-July 2
18 Open: June 28-July 1
18 National: June 28-July 1
18 USA: June 28-July 1
18 American: June 28-July 1