Lienemann, Kalich, Smith headed to Ohio
July 2, 2012 at 2:02 a.m.
As members of the Victoria East and West volleyball teams, Kelsea Kalich, Morgan Lienemann and Brooke Smith played the best teams from across the state in the UIL Class 4A volleyball playoffs.
Now the three have a chance to test themselves against some of the best players around the country.
The trio of Victoria players are participants in the 33rd Annual USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
"I know it's going to be hard, but it's going to be a lot of competition," Lienemann said.
Kalich is a senior at West, Lienemann is a senior at East and Smith is a West graduate who recently became a Texas State signee.
Smith was named the Victoria Advocate's All-Area Offensive Player of the Year for her play as a West middle blocker while Kalich and Lienemann were named to the All-Area first team for their play as outside hitters.
Kalich and Lienemann are teammates on the Houston Junior Volleyball 17 Elite team bases out of Houston while Smith played on the Houston Junior Volleyball 18 Elite team.
The 17 Elite team begins their seven-game pool play schedule on Tuesday while the 18 Elite team completed a 10-game schedule and went 3-7.
The 17 Elite team qualified for the USA Volleyball Tournament through an at-large bid.
"I was very relieving to know that we had our bid and it was good to know that somebody saw that we had been working hard," Kalich said.
This is Kalich's second straight year competing at the tournament.
She said a year of experience will come in handy this year.
"I'm still nervous, but I already know how it's going to be, I have an idea in my head," Kalich said. "Last year I had no clue what to even expect."
The competition gives Kalich and Lienemann a chance to reunite. The two were on volleyball teams since they were 3 years old and played together at Memorial High before the school split into East and West.
"It was just like old times," Kalich said. "We've played together forever, it seems like, and it was weird playing against her."
"When it comes to that moment, you kind of put friendships aside and you just play the game," added Lienemann about playing against West.
The two outside hitter open pool play on Tuesday against KUIKAHI 17 Wahine RSB, a team from Hawaii.
Even though the 17 Elite team is ranked 32nd in the 32 team tournament, Lienemann said just having a chance for the Victoria players to compete against the nation's best players is still a big accomplishment.
"Even if we lose and we don't do that well, we'll still be 32nd and that's the worst we can do," Lienemann said.