The members of Instinct Volleyball Club’s 16 White Tigers Wild Gold squad have been playing together for less than a year, but already the Tigers are knocking on the door of a national championship.
The squad moved one step closer to that goal in early July when it took second in the 16 USA Division at the USAV Girls Junior National Championships in Detroit.
The team, which features numerous local products, including Hebron’s Nicole Drewnick, Flower Mound’s Sarah Martinez, Marcus’ Aryel Jacques, Lewisville’s Isis Williams, The Colony’s Ashley Procious, Frisco Wakeland’s Rylee Williams and Argyle’s Kassidy Reeves, went 9-2 in Detroit to reach the finals were they were ultimately defeated by A5 Mizuno 16 Scott in two sets (25-10, 25-15).
“We are very excited with our performance,” said Eduardo Drewnick, Instinct head coach. “Of course we wish we placed first, but we just kind of ran out of gas in the finals.”
That could be expected of Instinct, however, as the club played the championship match with just eight players after losing a pair to injury and were already experiencing a bit of fatigue after seeing six of their nine victories coming in three sets.
“We were pretty exhausted, but it was well worth it to make the finals and finish second in the country,” coach Drewnick said.
Not only did Instinct place second, they crushed expectations after entering the tournament as the No. 12 seed.
Instinct had previously qualified for nationals by taking second at a qualifier in Philadelphia.
“There was a bit of a learning curve when we started the season, but by the time we got to Philadelphia, we were just playing better and better with the more time and experience the girls had together,” coach Drewnick said. “We always go to tournaments thinking we are going to win them. Maybe that is unrealistic, but it’s how we approach things. So while some people may have been surprised where we finished, we certainly weren’t.”
Instinct opened the tournament by going 4-1 in pool play before ratting off five consecutive wins to reach the championship match, including rolling past Arizona’s Livewire 16 Adidas team in the semifinals (25-17, 25-22).
For their efforts, Nicole Drewnick, Martinez and Williams were named to the all-tournament team.
“They all had great tournaments,” coach Drewnick said. “The MVP almost always goes to someone from the winning team and if we had gotten first, Nicole would have been the overall MVP.”
Coach Drewnick also noted that while that trio was recognized, the squad received contributions from the entirety of the roster.
“When you only have eight healthy players, they all have to play and do well,” he said. “They all had great moments and could have been chosen to the all-tournament team.”
Coach Drewnick expects much of the same when the club season resumes.
“It was pretty much a new team this year, but next season the whole team will stay together,” he said. “We will only be adding one or two new players and should only get better with more experience and those couple of new pieces.”