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Monday, 08 July 2019 22:15

Anderson, Cooley compete in AAU nationals ahead of junior seasons

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The ACS Black volleyball team poses for a photo during its trip to the AAU national tournament. The ACS Black volleyball team poses for a photo during its trip to the AAU national tournament. Contributed photo.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ahead of their junior seasons with the Richmond Senior High School volleyball team, Georgia Grace Anderson and Emy Cooley took a break from summer workouts to compete in the AAU 2019 Girls’ Nationals Tournament.

Representing the Athletic Club of the Sandhills 16U Black team, Anderson and Cooley traveled to Orlando in late June for the four-day tournament. Held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, ACS Black and head coach Brandon Blackburn compiled a 5-5 overall record to finish tied for 40th in the national tournament.

“The girls came home with a strong showing,” Blackburn said. “The ladies finished strong and with two of our losses coming to national teams which finished second and 15th, respectively.”

With its five wins at the tournament, ACS Black finished its 2019 campaign with 40 total wins, which Blackburn added is an “ACS volleyball record” for a single season. 

Ahead of playing in Orlando, Anderson and Cooley helped their travel volleyball team to a second-place finish in the Maroon and Orange AAU Super Regional tournament at Virginia Tech early last month. Their 4-2 record in that tournament qualified ACS Black for nationals.

Blackburn and company opened the first day of competition with a 2-1 record in pool play, defeating IVC (Ga.) in three sets (24-26, 25-17, 15-8) and ME-16 Elite in straight sets (25-22 and 25-21).

On day two, ACS Black began with a 2-0 win over Intensity 16 Red (Ill.), winning 25-20 and 25-22, before dropping its final two matches in straight sets to S.C. Midlands National (S.C.) and South Perf 16 (Ala.), respectively.

To cap pool play, ACS Black came back with two more wins on day three, beating Top Select 16 (Fla.) and CVA 16 Blue (Colo.). Blackburn’s team defeated Top Select in straight sets (25-21, 25-13) and came back to defeat CVA Blue in three sets (23-25, 25-20, 15-13). The team’s lone loss of the day was a 2-0 defeat to Tribe 16 (Fla.).

After going 5-4 in its nine pool matches, ACS Black was placed in the Pearl Division Championship, and fell in the opening round to Carolina Chaos 16 Royal 2-0. Sets scores were 12-25 and 25-18.

Cooley, the team’s libero, finished her season with 489 digs and a 91 percent serve percentage. Anderson, a middle hitter, led the club with 285 kills, and added 130 blocks. She also had a 90 percent serve percentage, 55 aces and a .179 hitting percentage.

With their travel volleyball season over, Anderson and Cooley will continue summer workouts with the Lady Raiders and second-year head coach Ashleigh Larsen this week.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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