Courtesy of TVA
The Triumph Volleyball Academy Under-14 boys volleyball team earned silver medals in its first appearance at the USA Volleyball National Championships in early July.
The Triumph Volleyball Academy club teams recently came back from its first National Championship with a second place trophy and a fifth place finish.
“For a first year team, that’s a huge accomplishment to get there,” said co-founder Steve Guglielmana. “To almost medal in both divisions and getting onto the championship court is great.”
The Under-18 team of four Madera South players, in addition to players from Clovis East, Golden Valley-Merced and Sanger went undefeated in pool play, but lost its first match in bracket play to finish just out of the medals.
The Under-14 team consisted of three players from Madera, two from Sanger, seven from Clovis and another from Merced. They defeated the top seed in the tournament and advanced to the championship game before losing to earn the silver medal.
“We knew we had a good team,” Guglielmana said. “Not being around the 14s around a bunch, we didn’t know how good they would do. We knew the 18s had a good team and a chance to medal. It was really going into this, we’re not going to this not to just go. We tried to put a team together. We wanted kids that wanted to go and wanted to play. They just wanted to play the game. To coach those kinds of kids that wanted to play, to be a part of something positive, they wanted to be there, it makes things a whole lot easier. The way they jelled together made it incredible.”
TVA has over 13 high schools and six or seven school district over its club teams.
“That’s a real good mix,” Guglielmana said. “All the club teams around are operated by certain schools to get their kids up to get them ready for the school season. We didn’t force it and let God do his thing getting kids to our club. It was almost a miracle we went to Nationals.”
Guglielmana credits some of the success to how he picked players to play with TVA.
“The focus wasn’t on to get recruited or get a medal,” he said. “It was to go because they loved playing and it’s the atmosphere we’ve been trying to create and instill God into it. It makes it really stress free. We had a great experience.”
Another reason for both teams’ success was their chemistry. Both teams traveled in vans for three days to get to the tournament in Houston.
“The travel philosophy for TVA is that we want to travel together and stay together,” Guglielmana said. “During the trip, the kids were packed in like sardines. The kids were ready to get out of the cars. We cook together, we eat together and do everything together. We get them off the phones and tell them it’s not all about volleyball. We tell them 30 years ago that may remember a couple of plays from the tournament, but they will remember being with their teammates. The memories and relationship they build will be more important.”
Guglielmana said there were more than 50 teams in the Under-14 tournament and more than 70 in the Under-18 division. The teams played three days of pool play before playing in the bracket to end the tournament.
The 18s went undefeated through the first three days of pool play and didn’t drop a set. The 14s finished first or second in each of their pools and remained in the gold (top) bracket.
“On day 4, we wake up and look to see where we’re at,” Guglielmana said. “We’re on the main court for all three matches. You get past the first match in Day 4 and you win at least a bronze medal.”
The Under-14 team beat a previously undefeated team to advance to the championship match.
“To play for a National championship was pretty cool,” Guglielmana said.
Former Madera South standout Javier Arreguin was one of the coaches for the Under-14 team. Arreguin is a 2017 graduate and is playing volleyball at Judson University in Chicago.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” he said. “I had no coaching experience and the team was going to nationals.
“There were teams that have playing together for a long time. They were smart and athletic. In my experience, if the team you’re on and has the energy and truly believe they can beat the other team, they can. Team chemistry played a big part on the team. There were some true bonds created on the team, especially by some team activities created by the coaches.
“I hope this tournament sparks a fire in them and I can’t way to see what they can do. I’m excited to come back to see where they’re at.”
The Under-18 team dropped a tough first match in the bracket and was eliminated right away.
“Sometimes things happen and they were just off,” Guglielmana said. “They could have won their first match on Day 4. Things were just a little off. They had a chance to win and we were up
24-22 in the second set. I think if we would have won that, we could have won the third set. Sometimes, things happen in sports and in life. The kids reacted great. It was an awesome trip and excited for the fall.”
Guglielmana is proud of the results of his first team to Nationals and can’t wait for the boys fall season to start.
“This was our first year as a volleyball club and we already have a medal,” he said.