Volleyball team wins regional event

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The 17-year-olds’ team for the Nansemond Volleyball Club took what was likely their final tournament of the season and made it a highlight by winning the Old Dominion Regional Championship on Sunday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

The 17s squad won all four of its matches on the day, including the final against the Richmond Volleyball Club 17 National team, which they defeated 27-29, 25-21, 15-9.

The 17-year old team for the Nansemond Volleyball Club celebrates after winning the Old Dominion Regional Championship on Sunday in Richmond. Pictured are in back from left, assistant coach Anne Fowler, Rachel Kent, Lizzy Fowler, Tatyana Thomas, Caylin Harris and head coach Robyn Ross; and front row from left, Claire Shields, Brooks Gillerlain, Kaylor Nash (holding Coach Ross’ daughter, Annabelle Ross) and Brianna Rowe.

The 17-year old team for the Nansemond Volleyball Club celebrates after winning the Old Dominion Regional Championship on Sunday in Richmond. Pictured are in back from left, assistant coach Anne Fowler, Rachel Kent, Lizzy Fowler, Tatyana Thomas, Caylin Harris and head coach Robyn Ross; and front row from left, Claire Shields, Brooks Gillerlain, Kaylor Nash (holding Coach Ross’ daughter, Annabelle Ross) and Brianna Rowe.

“They weren’t really challenged until the finals,” Nansemond head coach Robyn Ross said. “Kaylor (Nash) had a great match. She had 12 kills and so did (Tatyana Thomas), and Caylin (Harris) had six.”

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

Nash also had 13 digs, Thomas had seven blocks, and libero Claire Shields had 17 digs and two aces.

Ross gave special credit to Thomas and Harris in the middle.

“Our middle is what made the different in that game,” she said. “(RVC was) kind of blocking us from the middle in the first game, and we came back to sort of own the net again in the second and definitely the third games.”

Nash, Thomas, Harris and Shields were all named to the All-Tournament Team.

With only a slim chance at getting a bid to the national tournament in Dallas, the 17s team, composed of sophomores and juniors from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and Nansemond River High School, looks to have ended with a 34-22 record. It was only a month ago that the team got to 22-22 after strong showings at events in Atlanta and Richmond.

“They had peaked at just the right time, at the end of the season, when it really starts to matter, so if I could replicate that formula every year, that would be great,” Ross said.

She said they struggled to grasp her philosophy to start with, and she struggled with how to help them succeed. Then she received an assist from a former high school coach of hers, who gave some advice.

“She said, ‘If you’re not making practice harder than a game, if a game isn’t just like a totally relaxed environment for your girls, then you’re not doing them justice,’” Ross said. “And so that’s kind of what we did before Atlanta, and it sort of really did turn the tables.”

The team’s approach to the last string of tournaments was defined by a belief that it could win against anyone, Ross said.

“That confidence has come from many, many hours of struggle and hard work on their part, so it’s a well-earned swagger, as I would tell them,” Ross said.

She noted that Harris, a sophomore, showed the most development during the course of the 17s teams’ 56 matches.

“I would say that Caylin is probably in the most improved category, because she was younger and she sort of had to find her way amongst these bigger, older 17-year old girls, and then has really started to hold her own now at the end of the season,” Ross said.

Thomas and Nash distinguished themselves as two of the squad’s most valuable players.

“If you’re watching us play, everybody noticed Tat, because she’s bigger and hits harder, but she’s come a long way too,” Ross said. “She’s always been a little bit too nice, and so we finally got her to get mad enough to want to really hammer it down on some girls. So, I would say her and Kaylor are the obvious standouts when you watch us play. Kaylor, with her all-around play and her leadership was huge for these girls.”

At the same event, the Nansemond Volleyball Club 14s team finished third in its age division, the best finish for it at a tourney this year.