Winning — that’s what they seem to do over at the Winter Park Volleyball Club these days.
One by one, teams representing the WPVC have helped fill the trophy cases that sit in the club’s facility in Maitland — serving as a physical reminder of their dominance.
That ability to not only win but also crush opponents shined at the 2018 AAU Chill Blast Grand Prix two weeks ago in Oviedo.
Among the teams from WPVC to compete, five medaled in their specific age group — with the U11 Elite Black, U12 Elite Black and U13 Elite Orange bringing home the gold.
“They just have expectations, and they play, and they’re disciplined — that’s how we were able to go in there and sweep three age groups,” said Aaron Phillips, club director and head coach of the U11 team. “These kids know what the expectations are, and it’s not win or lose, it’s to compete and to play with discipline.”
The wins themselves are big for the three teams, because the shiny medals are the golden tickets for getting into the upcoming AAU National Tournament — which will be held June 17 to 20 in Orlando.
The dominance of WPVC in the Chill Blast Grand Prix is the embodiment of the club’s formula of success that includes working with younger kids as early as possible to prepare them for competition, Phillips said.
“We really strive on developing the youth — getting them young that have never played before and developing them,” he said. “We try to set ourselves up a year before.”
The two-day tournament itself featured teams from around the Central Florida area — from Tampa to Cocoa.
Those three teams at the U11, U12, and U13 level alone went 16-0 and won a combined 32 of their 35 sets played. The U12 Elite Black went undefeated in their 10 sets.
Phillips’ 11U Elite Black squad only suffered one blemish in the first game in pool play against the OTVA Volleyball Academy — North.
After a dominating 25-11 win in the first step, the 11U Elite Black team lost some footing in a 13-25 second set loss. The setback didn’t keep WPVC down for long, as they took over in the third set with a dominating 15-3 route.
The race was on from there, as WPVC finished with a perfect 4-0 in pool play before making it into the gold division.
By sealing first place in the pool, WPVC was able to enjoy a first round bye before taking on Cape Coast’s 11U Elite squad in the semifinals.
In the first set, Cape Coast was blanked when WPVC did not allow a single point in a perfect 25-0 win. Even more impressive is that each point from the win came during Issabella Casanova’s 25 consecutive serves.
The second set didn’t go much better for Cape Coast. WPVC went on another point streak to seal the match with a 25-7 win.
The win put WPVC’s 11U team into the final in a rematch against the only team that had won a set against them all tournament — OTVA Volleyball Academy — North.
That match proved more difficult than the semifinal. But WPVC was up to the task and squeaked out back-to-back 25-21, 25-23 victories over OTVA to win gold at Chill Blast.
“When they won that tournament, those girls ran in together and started hugging, started crying — four of them had tears in their eyes they were so happy they had won,” Phillips said. “And that’s just one of the reasons why I do it — to see those girls that happy.”