Volleyball team competing nationally
Mississippi Velocity Volleyball Club owner Rita Sharpe says seeing her girls get to compete in a national tournament next week is extremely rewarding and exciting.
“We’ve poured a lot of time and energy into these girls to get them to the next level,” Sharpe said. “We have 100% support from the parents as well.”
The Mississippi Velocity Volleyball Club is part of the Delta Region that comprises Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Not only has Mississippi never qualified a team in the 12U age bracket to nationals since club volleyball teams were formed in the state, but Mississippi has never qualified any age group in volleyball for nationals until this year.
Every girl on the team this year is from Madison County, including Annabelle Sharpe (Gluckstadt), Makenzie Taylor (Gluckstadt), Asia Lindsay (Gluckstadt), Catherine Bensler (Madison), Gabriella Strickland (Madison), Kylie Young (Madison), Laura Catherine Freeman (Madison), Liza Witt (Madison) and Macy Gladden (Madison).
Sharpe founded the club in 2016 after coaching volleyball at Madison Central High School for one season. A parent asked her if she could coach her daughter, and the club grew from there.
“A couple of girls from Madison Middle joined the lessons and eventually more and more people became interested in the club,” Sharpe said. “We began to grow from there and we participated in local tournaments, which we continued to do over the next few years.”
Sharpe said the club needed to receive a bid for the national tournament (USAV Girls Junior National Championship), which is being held in Minneapolis from June 14 through June 17. The girls went to the Delta Bid Qualifier Tournament on April 23 of this year, and placed in the top three, which qualified them for nationals.
She said the first three days of the tournament are called “pool play,” which places the girls into a bracket of 64 teams to compete for first place.
“Getting to this point has been a rollercoaster,” Sharpe said. “We’ve had very competitive years along with not-so-competitive years. We just opened our own building in Ridgeland to practice in, and it allows us so much more growth. And now, seeing the girls compete nationally is so rewarding and exciting. Our ultimate goal is to win, but we’re taking it game by game.”
“We’re keeping our heads level and keeping a good attitude,” she said. “Even if we’re down by several points, we play each game like it’s the championship. We give it 100 percent and go hard, no matter who the competition is.”
For more information about the Mississippi Velocity Volleyball Club, visit their website at www.velocity-volleyball.com, or visit their Facebook (Mississippi Velocity Volleyball Club) and Instagram (MSVelocityVolleyball).