In a sport dominated by large club teams, the Mid-Prairie Journey 12U volleyball team consisting of local players has qualified for the USA volleyball junior national tournament.
“Mid-Prairie Journey is the cinderella team for sure,” coach Brandon Statler said. “All of the other teams qualified from Iowa are big tryout clubs, so for our little group of Mid-Prairie girls to go is awesome.”
Despite the underdog mentality, the results on the court have spoken for themselves as Statler said they have a 100-9-3 record over the past two club volleyball seasons.
This group has been together since third grade according to Statler, with a club program started by Chrissy Jehle.
To qualify for the national tournament, the team had to compete at a regional competition in Des Moines last month, where they placed one spot outside of an automatic bid. Then the waiting game began as USA Volleyball decided which teams would earn at-large bids, with certain spots given out to stronger regions. Iowa was allocated an extra spot and it was given to the Journey 12U team.
The Journey will play in the 64-team American division, the third highest level of USA Junior Volleyball.
In total, three Iowa teams qualified in the 12U American division age group. The Iowa Attack is a club team in the Council Bluffs area and Centra Iowa Select is based out of Des Moines.
Statler said the Journey are unique in that they’re one of only a few teams made up of classmates to qualify.
The four-day tournament will take place from June 29-July 2 in Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center. Statler said the trip is just another opportunity for the team to learn to love the sport of volleyball.
The tournament will feature a minimum of nine best of three matches for the group, giving them solid experience at a national level.
“Only 120 teams make it to nationals in this age group, so it’s a special group,” he said.
Over the next month the team will be holding multiple fundraisers to pay for their entry fee and expenses related to five days of travel to Indianapolis. Those fundraisers include a gift card raffle, a bake sale, a sponsored team banner and a can drive. The can drive will take place this weekend.
With a long club season, practice began in Sept. 2018 for this season according to Statler and he said it has been a team effort to get the girls ready for competition. Both Sherry Evans, the new Mid-Prairie varsity coach, and Jaedynn Evans, an Iowa City Regina senior and future University of Iowa Volleyball player, helped prepare the team for a strong club volleyball scene in Iowa.
For more information on fundraisers, contact Brandon Statler at email@example.com.