PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Downstate Black Volleyball 14-year-old team had one goal entering the season – qualify for Junior Nationals.
On Friday, the team will board a plane for Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the 33rd annual Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The 15-year-old Downstate team also qualified. It is the second consecutive year this group qualified. The championships begin Saturday and go through July 7.
“This is the first time we’ve qualified, so we are all so excited,” said setter Lindsay Pelaccio, a freshman-to-be at Hendrick Hudson. “This whole season we’ve been planning on this happening, and we worked our way up to it.”
The 14-year-old team qualified by beating the second Downstate 14-year-old team, coached by Pelaccio’s father, Kurt. They also won on their home floor.
The Black team consists of Emily Tomlinson, Taylor McCarthy, Gillian Steiglitz, Lindsay Kim, Katie Roche, Hayley Kmetz, Mary Burns, Lena Kleinberg, Rebecca Williams, Julia Mines, Melissa Tringali and Pelaccio. The coaches are Dan Altro and Jessica Williams.
Tomlinson, Tringali, Pelaccio, Roche, Steiglitz and Mines have played together for the past two years.
“About halfway through the season, we began playing really well,” said Pelaccio, a two-year veteran of the Hen Hud Junior Varsity volleyball team. “We won a few tournaments, and that made us feel confident with each other.”
In preparation for nationals, Pelaccio and her teammates have been practicing with the 15-year-old team.
“It has been great practicing with them,” Pelaccio said. “They were at nationals last year, so they have been telling us what to expect so we are not nervous.
“They’ve also told us there is going to be a lot of teams and it is going to be tough competition who we haven’t seen before. We have to be ready for that.”