ORLANDO — In a span of just four days, four incoming Prosper freshmen became National Champions with their club volleyball program, Instinct Volleyball Club.
Carsyn Clayton, Savannah Dodson, Montana Crumbaugh and Taylor Bass traveled to Florida on June 15 — 18 to compete in the 2017 Amateur Athletic Union Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championship. Teams from all over the country also made the journey to the Orange County Convention Center, as well as teams from Canada, Japan, South America, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“It’s been amazing to play with such talented girls that I have bonded with over the past nine months,” said libero Carsyn Clayton. “We all trained so hard, and winning the championship was the greatest reward for all of us.”
It was a whirlwind of a weekend for the girls, as the team played a total of 14 games during the tournament span. They lost just one match the entire weekend before capturing the National Championship title. They defeated Up on Top, a team out of Florida, to seal the tournament victory in the final match, which was held at the iconic ESPN Sports Center on June 18.
Although the four days were long, Montana Crumbaugh said it was teamwork that helped her team persevere through the tournament.
“I think the thing that helped us the most was teamwork and confidence in ourselves and teammates. We had to work together and believe in each other to win, … because volleyball is a team sport, not just a one-person sport,” the outside hitter said.
Bringing the title back to Prosper was an immense honor for all parties involved, but Misty Clayton, Carsyn’s mother, said it is increasingly special as a parent to watch her daughter win.
“They have four hours of practice on weekdays, private lessons and tournaments on the weekends,” Clayton said. “As a parent, you watch your child pour their heart and soul into this sport. … They love what they do. They fought hard for every win, and to see them take the top honors after working so intensely was just pure joy.”
During the past several months, the team has developed such a chemistry, they consider themselves a family. Led by the ultimate father figure, coach Renato Borges, the girls treat each other like sisters, creating a bond that has become seemingly unbreakable, on and off the court.
Renato and the girls did celebrate the win in Florida, accepting the trophy from Minnie Mouse on stage. However, the festivities were short-lived as they had to immediately hop on a plane back to Prosper for freshman volleyball camp at Prosper High.
Nonetheless, the championship is one that will stick with each of the girls for the rest of their lives. The quartet will look to help the Prosper volleyball program excel in the upcoming fall season, in addition to training with their club team also in the fall.
“I am overwhelmingly proud of my team,” said setter and tournament All-Star Taylor Bass. “Everyone on my team had one common goal and that also helped us push through to the championship. I am so proud of how hard all these girls worked.”