Bump, set, spike… all year round

Left: Florence’s 16u volleyball team, coached by Courtney Hack. Right: Florence’s 14u volleyball team, pictured with their coach, Rich DeSantis. (photos by Becky Holbrook/beckdawgphotog.com)

Local volleyball players compete around the state

March 4, 2022 — For some Florence area youth, volleyball season is almost all year around. Two club teams from the area, one for girls 14 years old and younger and another for 16 and under, have been playing off-season volleyball against teams from all over the state.

A few weeks ago, they competed at the President’s Day Tournament at the Bob Kiefer Center in Springfield.

Both teams fared well. The 14u team took third in their bracket and the 16u team won their bracket.

When not playing in tournaments, the team competes in a “Power Leaguethat includes dozens of other club teams from around the region.

The two teams are coached by Rich DeSantis, who coaches the 14u team and sometimes the 16u, and Courtney Hack, who coaches the 16u team.

The goal with “off-seasonteams like these is to help develop the high school volleyball program and to give the girls an opportunity to face tougher competition than they normally would. Most importantly though, it gives the girls more chances to play volleyball.

“I think most of girls like to play because it gives them the opportunity to play their favorite sport more,said Hack. “It also helps to build the high school team because the girls get to know each other better and, in turn, learn to play with each other better. This year, we have players that played both varsity and junior varsity, so it’s nice to incorporate them all on one team.

DeSantis, whose 14u team is made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, has the same goals for his team: to improve the high school program. According to the coach, when club teams do well, the pay-off comes during high school volleyball season.

“When club teams are going strong, you see league titles with the high school team,” he said. “That is the goal. I want to see the high school program thrive. That’s exactly why I coach here.

DeSantis took over the team somewhat recently and has been impressed by what he’s seen thus far.

I’ve been very impressed by how fast this group learned,he added.

These two teams would not exist without a ton of help from the community. Pixie Center, who coordinates the two teams’ operations, mentioned Korando Dental, Ladies of the Elks, Elks Lodge #1858 and Ray Wells Inc. as valuable contributors to the operations of the clubs.

Center also asked the community to keep an eye out for an announcement of when the next Viking Cup Golf Tournament is, as the event helps to support not only these volleyball clubs but also local youth baseball, too.

To find the teams’ Power League standings, go to www.cevaregion.org/power-league.