Chobee Volleyball Academy wins back-to-back tournaments

OKEECHOBEE — The Chobee Volleyball Academy 14-and-under team has won back-to-back tournaments in February and March. The team took home the gold at the Gasparilla Volleyball Kickoff and at the 2018 Super Regional Volleyball Tournament.

At the Gasparilla Volleyball Kickoff held on Feb. 17-19 at the Tampa Convention Center the 14-and-under team came in first place out of 38 teams in the gold division.

The Chobee Volleyball Academy 14-and-under team hold their gold medals shortly after winning 2018 Super Regional Volleyball Tournament. From left to right: coach Jerry Veloz, Ashley Phares, Callie Rucks, Kiersten Kennedy, Morgan Tucker, Jaclyn Pearce, Karey Gopher, Elle Thomas, Joy Whipple and assistant coach Sarah Phares. Special to the Okeechobee News.

Chobee Volleyball Academy coach Jerry Veloz was proud of his team’s effort to win the tournament.

“It was a really tough three-day tournament,” said Mr. Veloz. “We started really hot, but then on Sunday we actually lost our first match. We had to regroup and talk about what happened and we moved on from there and won the tournament. The girls put in a lot of work.”

“Nobody knows who we are, we are from a little tiny town in the middle of Florida and we’re competing against these big teams. We eliminated them all. It was a unique experience.”

Next the team of eight traveled to Tavares, Fla. to compete in the 2018 Super Regional Volleyball Tournament.

“This tournament we were a little more consistent than we were at Gasparilla,” explained Mr. Veloz. “Volleyball is all about momentum, and we had one game on Saturday where the momentum just wasn’t going our way and we lost. But we ended up having to face that same team the following day, this time for the gold medal and we were able to beat them in two sets.”

In securing the win at the Super Regional, the girls have now received a paid entry to the AAU National Volleyball Tournament held June 17-20 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

In total the team has four more tournaments to compete in as well as nationals.

“The next few tournaments are going to be a really cool experience.” Mr. Veloz said.

”We’re playing a lot of different clubs, so the girls are very eager to go for the gold medal.

Hopefully we come out on top and bring that gold back home to Okeechobee.”

The Chobee Volleyball Academy 14-and-under team poses with their gold medal shortly after winning the Gasparilla Volleyball Kickoff in Tampa Bay. Back row from left to right: Elle Thomas, coach Jerry Veloz, Ashley Phares, Joy Whipple, and assistant coach Sarah Phares. Front row from left to right: Callie Rucks, Kiersten Kennedy, Morgan Tucker, Karey Gopher and Jaclyn Pearce. Photo by Richard Marion.

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