Multiple local standouts recorded solid finishes at last week’s USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships, with numerous area programs taking home podium finishes at the high-profile summer event.
Competing in Indianapolis, Ind., the two best results were provided by Plano’s MADFROG 15’s Black team, which took down the 15-year-old USA division, and Carrollton’s Texas Advantage 17 Black, which won the 17 Open division – the tournament’s top competition.
MADFROG’s roster featured three local players, with Plano West sophomore Camille Heidemann, Plano East sophomore Ella Yarborough and Allen sophomore Kayla Manio taking part in the championship performance. Five area standouts suited up for TAV’s 17 Black squad, including West seniors Iman Ndiaye and Sydney Yap, Prestonwood Christian senior Caroline Stogner, Carrollton Prince of Peace senior Evy Eckensberger and Hebron senior Nnedi Okammor.
For Yap and her teammates, the win was a validation of the group’s work and talent.
“During the entire season, there were so many points where we all questioned if all the hard work we were putting in was worth it,” she said. “We all kept reminding each other of our main goal of winning nationals, and that’s what kept us going. In the end, I think most of all, we felt proud of ourselves and each other for putting our all into this season and really trusting our brilliant coach (Ping Cao).”
Ndiaye was awarded the tournament’s MVP honors for her work in helping propel TAV to its title, furthering the UCLA commit’s case for being one of the best players in the area.
Yap said the additional time spent with her West teammate this summer helped bring the pair closer ahead of a senior campaign that could bring another lengthy postseason run and a shot at a state title.
“I have so much love and respect for Iman,” she said. “Going through ‘the Pingdom’ together definitely brought us closer, as we were always there for each other, and I trust her with anything now. Her skill and energy is so fun to share the court with, which makes next school season even more exciting.”
Underneath the pair of local title-winners, the next best result was a runner-up finish in the 16 Open division by TAV’s 16 Black team, headed by former Lovejoy head coach Jason Nicholson. That club featured Flower Mound juniors Kaylee Cox and Angelique Cyr, Frisco Lebanon Trail junior Tyrah Ariail, Allen junior Callie Kemohah, West junior Ashley Le, and Prosper junior Shaylee Shore.
Skyline 16 Royal out of Plano, which includes Lovejoy sophomore Averi Carlson and junior Ellie Jonke, Prosper juniors Taylor Youtsey, Samantha Jacobs, Bailey Birmingham and Nikki Steinheiser and Sachse junior Elizabeth Woods, took third in the same division, while third place finishes were also recorded in the 16 National Division by Skyline's 16 Black team, in the 16 American division by EXCEL 16 National Red out of Carrollton and in the 15 Open division by LoneStar 15 Red out of Frisco.
The EXCEL group featured Frisco Wakeland junior Elle Bryant, Allen junior Maya Detwiler, Frisco Lone Star junior Makailyn Hill, Marcus junior Paige Hunden, West junior Avery Lowe and McKinney Boyd junior Emily Ludtka.
For Skyline's Black squad, Prosper junior Riley Price, Frisco Lebanon Trail juniors Peyton Thompson and Xuan Nguyen, Lovejoy junior Brynn Egger, and Plano West junior Lindsey Zhang took the court.
The LoneStar group brought the most local players to the event, boasting 11 area athletes on its bronze-medal roster. They included Frisco Reedy sophomores Jordan Chapman, Camryn Hill and Kelsey Perry, Lake Dallas sophomore Caelyn Gunn, Prosper sophomore Jazzlyn Ford, West sophomores Jean Dixon, Camryn McGough and Joyce Wang, Frisco Centennial freshman Angela Henson, Allen sophomore Emma Janek and Argyle sophomore Jessie Moore.
For continued coverage of the local sports scene, follow @TaylorRaglin on Twitter.