Published: Jul 10, 2011 08:42 AM
Modified: Jun 30, 2011 05:21 PM
NC Elite's 16-2 volleyball team arrived in Orlando, Fla., as the No. 21 seed in the Amateur Athletic Union National Championships.
The Morrisville-based club team left last week as the tournament's Classic division champion, with three players selected to the tournament's All-American team and one named the division's Most Valuable Player.
"Everything came together," said co-head coach Micholene Schumacher. "We brought our best every day."
The squad, composed of girls ages 16 and younger from across the Triangle, won nine of 11 matches played over the course of four days to claim the national championship.
The NC Elite team won six of its eight matches in pool play to advance to a 10-team championship bracket, where it won its final three matches in straight sets, including the title-clinching 25-17, 25-22 victory over Eastside 16-1 of East Peoria, Ill.
"We came into the tournament very humble," Schumacher said.
"Our main focus was sportsmanship. We were just trying to win one game at a time. ... I thought we had a shot, if all the stars aligned."
Molly Tatum, a junior at Person County, was selected as the division's MVP.
Along with Tatum, Abby Keller of Raleigh Charter and Marissa Mayfield of Riverside were named to the tournament's All-America team.
Dana Lingenfelser, a sophomore at Fuquay-Varina, also contributed to NC Elite's championship run.
"I was really shocked," Tatum said of winning the MVP award. "We have a great group of girls, and any one of us could have won it."
The title continues a streak of recent volleyball triumphs in the Triangle.
Last fall, Apex and Cardinal Gibbons won the 4-A and 3-A state high school championships, respectively.
Schumacher said her team's experience in Orlando should bode well for its players this coming high school season.
"The girls played outside of themselves," Schumacher said.
"Now they can all go back and bring everything they learned."