Good Sports: Valley Volleyball Academy celebrating championship

Alec Nolan Image
Saturday, May 4, 2024
Good Sports: Valley Volleyball Academy celebrating championship
A local volleyball club can now add ''national championship'' to its resume!

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's been an emotional rollercoaster for the Valley Volleyball Academy.

"I fell to the floor and I was crying," says Haven Rich.

"Oh, I was bawling," says Makayla Smith.

"All the emotions are going through," says Audrey Hyde.

Tears of joy after the group of local high schoolers won USA Volleyball's National Championship in Baltimore.

I texted the girls and I said, 'Hey, it wasn't a dream. This really happened,'" says coach Kelly Winter.

"There's no words to describe it how this feels," Rich said.

After winning a qualifier to just get into the dance, the girls went on perfect 9-0 run over three days to claim the title.

"Seeing that ball hit the floor, it was just like wow, we did it," Smith said.

"It takes so much dedication, so much sacrifice, so much luck," Winter said.

That bit of luck was needed in the championship match after the girls found themselves down 7-1 in a win-or-go-home third and final set.

The girls would rally to take home the gold 15-13.

"So much anticipation, and so much anxiety," Hyde said.

Coach Winter says it's a true win for the Valley, with girls coming together up and down the 559.

"All the way up to Coarsegold, and all the way back to Three Rivers," she said.

"Being from different schools really brought us closer," Smith said.

"More than a team -- we're a family, and we can represent the Valley together," Hyde said.

All the hard work and training came together at Valley Athletics, a brand new gym co-founded by Fresno State Men's Basketball Coach Vance Walberg and his family.

"It's just neat to see that success right away for these girls," he said.

Walberg, like the rest of the coaches, hoping it can inspire young generations to do the same.

"You can't ask for a better team that is just more resilient and ready to just battle all the time," Winter said.

Valley Athletics now hangs up its first championship banner, with the hope of more to come.

"There's higher highs and lower lows in athletics, so you got to enjoy the highs and enjoy as long as you can," Winter said.

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