14U VOLLEYBALL

Members of Williston's 14U travel volleyball team pose for a photo after they won the super-regional tournament in early May. The team's name is Chaos and the members are: Sophie Vaughn, Annie Vaughn, Grace Johnson, Karlee Jacobson, Tatiana Olson, Mariska Amoo-Gottfried, Owan Gendreau, Maddy Collings and Kaelee Radke.

Chaos, Williston’s 14U travel volleyball team, has been creating chaos for rival teams across the region and will now take their skills to the national level.

The group of nine girls from area schools, including Williston High School and Williston Trinity Christian, have had a record season winning four of their six tournaments they played and advancing to play at a national tournament from June 30 through July 3 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Beth Zarling, one of the coaches on the team, said that she and Brandy Vaughn, the other coach for the team, are incredibly proud of their girls and this is the first time something like this has happened for the travel volleyball teams.

“A number of the tournaments we’ve gone to, people have said to us, ‘Oh, you’re the Williston team. I’ve heard about you from the Laurel tournament. You guys are good.’ And it’s like, ‘Really?” Zarling said with an upward inflection. “We’re definitely making waves out there and it’s exciting. It’s an awesome group of 13 and 14-year-old girls.”

But first, some background

Zarling said for about four or so years now Williston has had a travel volleyball team that is run through the Williston Parks and Recreation Department.

Much like any other school team, the travel team is for student-athletes 12-18 who try out to be on the team.

Each age group has its own team.

This year, Zarling said their were three teams— a 14-year-old team, a 16-year-old team and an 18-year-old team.

She and Vaughn coach the 14U team and selected the nine current players after 25 total girls tried out in January.

“Boy did we choose the right group of people,” Zarling said. “They mesh really well together.”

Then, out of the six tournaments the team competed in, they brought home four, first place finishes, one second place finish and a sixth place finish.

The last tournament of the season, which was in Billings, was the super regional.

Teams from all over the region attended the tournament, and Zarling said this was the tournament where if a team won it they got to advance to attend the national tournament.

Chaos won.

“It was unbelievably exciting,” Zarling said. “We almost lost it in the semi-final round but we pulled out a win, which is a huge deal because Williston travel has not done that before…They deserve it.”

Where to next?

After winning super-regionals, Chaos advanced to play in a national tournament in Arizona from June 30 through July 3.

And Zarling said the team is guaranteed to play four games the four days they are there.

And to help pay for the expenses associated with the trip, Zarling said the girls have been going from business to business asking for support and explaining why that business should support the team.

“They practiced their spiel and have gone into big businesses in town, like Red Rock Ford, and said, ‘Hi, we’re the 14U Chaos volleyball team and we just won our super regional…’ and it’s been super effective,” Zarling said.

The team also set up a Venmo account for people who want to help.

Ideally, the team is looking to raise anywhere from 12-15 thousand dollars to cover the cost of flights, accommodations and food just for the trip.

Although Zarling said they aren’t quite there yet, she is confident they will be.

“I think we’ll get pretty close to what we need to do this,” she said.

In the meantime

Overall, Zarling said the girls are so excited about this, but regardless of the success she said they have kept good heads on their shoulders.

“They’re confident but not cocky,” she said. “We try to always distinquinsh between those things. (They) kind of have a right to be cocky because they’ve shown that they deserve to win, but that’s just not a good look,” Zarling said.

But the confidence wasn’t always there.

Zarling said prior to the super-regional tournament, the team didn’t think they could win.

“Prior to going, I said, ‘You guys could absolutely win.’ And they said, ‘Coach, you really think so?’ And I said absolutely and they were floored, they couldn’t believe I thought they could win,” Zarling said. “We are good enough to win.”

And in the meantime, Zarling wants the girls to know that they shouldn’t take their foot off the gas.

“Get back in the gym and hit it hard,” she said.

She said they have two weeks to refine their skills and touch up on areas that need a little work, but she said they can do it.

As for the community, Zarling said they should support the team because in general Williston is in need of something to cheer about.

“This is definitely a team to get behind,” Zarling said. “It’s not the only team...but the city should also back these girls as much as they can.”

For those who want to help, Zarling said they could donate to the team’s Venmo account: @Williston-VolleyballClub.

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