MCALLEN (KVEO) – The McAllen Fierce 13U Volleyball Team has proven that they have fight. The club has only been in existence for three years, with over one of those years having been spent in a pandemic.
“This season has been very hard with COVID, and our season last year being cut off short. We were hoping to go to Florida last year being our first year but this year was our first year,” said Yaneli Rocha. “It’s been very difficult in a way, we lose players, players get hurt but it just brings us all back together in a way.”
The Fierce didn’t let the pandemic get them down. In fact, they came back out of it even stronger.
On June 21st, they competed in the 48th Annual AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando, Florida, the World’s largest volleyball tournament.
“Last Monday the girls finished in 1st place out of 148 teams at the 48th annual AAU championships, it was just such a great experience,” said Jahaziel Cano, Head Coach of the McAllen Fierce. “The girls just went out there, represented themselves, their families, our team, our city and the RGV they did a very very good job I’m very proud of them.”
Fierce clenched the championship title going 25-12, 25-10 against FL Momentum 13U Neon. They finished the tournament with a 12-0 record.
“Those games were very, very different from what we were actually playing before,” said Rocha. “A lot of those teams were very good teams and well-known teams, and we just went out there and did it. That championship game was just, something else.”
The team has found their groove again, even if that means losing players and gaining new ones.
Their season doesn’t end here, now the Fierce are taking their talent to a highly respected national stage. The team earned a bid to compete in the USA Volleyball Junior National Championship tournament.
“We earned it here through a regional tournament in Houston. Out of 48 teams the girls finished in the top 5, they finished 4th and they did very, very well,” said Cano. “So, earning a bid for USA volleyball is huge. Not many teams here in the Valley have done that, so the girls accomplishing something like that is tremendous it’s awesome to put the Valley on the map especially McAllen, and these girls we’re a very small club.”
At the AAU Junior Championship, Gabby Estringel and Yaneli Rocha were selected as Tournament All Americans. Aleena Zuniga was selected as Most Valuable Player.
“I’m a little nervous, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to do good because we’ve gone against a lot of hard teams before we’ve beat a lot of them too, so I think we’ll do good,” said Gabby Estringel, about going up against teams at the USA Junior Championships.
Fierce were able to knock out 12 teams to earn the AAU Junior Championships. Now they’ll go up against the best of the best in USA Volleyball.
‘I told the girls just relax and play, have fun, you know don’t feel any pressure,” said Cano. “We’re not supposed to win this so lets just go out there, be the underdog and maybe surprise some people over there.”
Fierce will open play at the USA Volleyball Junior Championship Tournament on Wednesday, June 30th.