What started as a dream of playing volleyball with friends all summer turned into a trip to the Junior Olympics for Nevada Union junior-to-be Paige Carnahan.
Carnahan has spent the beginning of her summer playing volleyball for the Sacramento Force 16-1 (16-and-under) team, which has earned a trip to the Junior Olympics from July 3-8 in Minneapolis.
Carnahan said she and three friends went to a Roseville club to try to make the team. One of the girls was struggling with an injury and wasn’t invited to be a part of the team.
“I was upset,” Carnahan said. “I came down to try out with the Force with the girl who didn’t make it. I was about halfway down there when I found out she was so upset that she wasn’t going to the tryout.
“I got here and decided to give it a shot and made the 16-1 team. Now we’re first in NorCal. We won our qualifying tournament in Reno and qualified for the Junior Olympics.”
In one final twist, Carnahan’s friend ended up earning a spot on the Roseville team.
“One actually took my number down there, so at least there’s a part of me on that team,” Carnahan said.
The Force, meanwhile, is a squad of 12 girls from 10 schools who hadn’t played together before this season. Carnahan said most of the players had never met two weeks before the first tournament, which they won.
Carnahan is looking forward to taking her newfound knowledge back to the Nevada Union team in her quest for a spot on the varsity squad.
“I’ve learned teamwork,” Carnahan said. “NU has a very good reputation for volleyball, so this is valuable for me. I’ve improved a lot.”
One of the coaches for The Force – Rio Americano’s John Grix – said Carnahan brings a good jump serve, good passing and good technical abilities to her spot on the right side. Grix has also used Carnahan as a defensive specialist.
Grix said practices at the beginning of the season weren’t always held in the gym.
“We had them do a lot of team-building,” Grix said. “They did a challenge course together that they had to work together to get through. Some parts they couldn’t talk, others they were blindfolded.
“They’ve had lots of team dinners and sleep-overs.”
According to Grix, one girls actually missed her prom because the team was at a tournament – which The Force won. The parent of the girl who missed prom sprung for a stretch limo to pick up the girls and take them out for a “mock prom” night.
To contact Sports Writer Ross Maak, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4244.
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