Local girls heated up the courts at the AAU National Volleyball Tournament in Orlando in June going all the way to finals in the 15 Premier Division hosting 92 teams.
The Tri-State Elite (TSE) 15-US team competed in the four-day national volleyball tournament at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. TSE was seeded 66 out of 92 teams. The first two days they played well with a 4-2 record. They faced teams from Michigan, Alabama, California, Indiana and Florida. The third day was very important for placement into the Gold Bracket. The first team they came up against was Milwaukee Sting (MW). On paper, MW should have won, but TSE was on top with an amazing three set match. Next they played DFFO from Kalamazoo, Michigan, which once again ended up going to three sets to win another close match. That evening TSE had to play a crossover match that would place them into either the championship gold or consolation silver bracket. They played Upward Stars from North Dakota and won in two sets; they made it to Gold!
They had just come back from a pre-national Chicago tournament and won only one match the entire time. The girls were plagued with injuries all season with bad shoulders, backs, broken finger, shins, etc. But the stars were all aligned in Florida and they were all healthy and happy.
Day four, in the Gold Quarter Finals, they played Kairos Elite from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and won two straight sets to win the match. On to the semifinals playing AXIS from South Carolina. It was another close match going to a tie-breaker third set to win. They made it to the finals! The championship game changed venues to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex that night at 8. Their opponents were Northern Lights (NL) from Minnesota. NL was undefeated thus far in this tournament. NL was also the defending champions from the 2014. Tri-State Elite went a little cold and lost 17-25, 20-25. This Cinderella team went from a seeding of 66 to second place.
Six of the players on this national championship runner-up team go to Northern Kentucky schools. Gabby Ogle, Maggie Stuempel and Gretchen Wessels are entering their sophomore years at Beechwood High School. Katie Draud and Julia Sears go to Notre Dame Academy, entering freshman and sophomore years, and Taylor Keener goes to Cooper entering her sophomore year. The other teammates from Ohio include Caroline Kinney (McAuley), Lydia Kurtz (Wyoming) and Hannah Keeting (Lakota East), all entering into their sophomore year.
Three TSE players made the All-Star Team: Gabby Ogle (setter), Julia Sears (outside hitter) and Hannah Keeting (middle).