Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
New Bremen's Jones wins national championship
By Gary R. Rasberry
Last high school volleyball season, Paige Jones just missed out on a chance to play in the state final four.
As she gets ready for her senior season for New Bremen, she has extra motivation to help the Cardinals get to the state semifinals: A national championship.
Jones recently helped Elite Volleyball Training Center (Elite VBTC) 17 Black team win a national title in the 17-Under Premier division at the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships held in Orlando, Florida. Jones was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
"We were ranked third going into the tournament since we were third place last year," Jones said via telephone. "Going down, we had the big goal of coming back with the national championship."
Elite VBTC, based out of Plain City, went 13-0 in the four-day tournament and defeated MVA 17 Black in three sets to claim the title.
"Our toughest game was our challenge match (against Carolina UVC 17), where the winner moves to the gold (Championship Division) and loser goes to the silver (Consolation Division)," said Jones. "We lost the first game 15-25. Going into the second game (best of three sets) we knew if we wanted to bring home the championship, we had to bounce back. We came to win the second game (26-24) and then the third game (15-10). That was one of our hardest matches before going into the final."
Elite VBTC, which had lost just four sets in the tournament, beat Epic 17 Pat and Asics KIVA 17 White in the first two rounds of the championship before facing MVA 17 Black, which won the first set 25-16 before Elite came back to win the final two sets 25-18 and 15-8 to run the table.
Jones, already committed to the University of Michigan, teamed up with players from Division I powerhouse Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Bradley and Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Liberty, Logan, Troy and Ada. Nine of the 11 players are committed to NCAA Division I or II schools.
"Honestly, I love playing with this team," Jones said. "The connection that we have is amazing from what we were last year to this year. How much we've jelled and how to play to make us better. Just having them to push you every day in practice because they're just as good as you and do the same thing you want to do. It's awesome."
The win gives Jones a boost as she gets ready for her senior season at New Bremen. Last year the Cardinals lost to eventual state champion Jackson Center in the Division IV regional final. Now, Jones and her Cardinal teammates want to take last year's momentum and go farther.
"It gets my expectations higher for my school," Jones said. "We all have one goal this year: to put a state championship on our wall (of Cardinal Gymnasium). ... Knowing how much work we have to put in is going to help us towards our goal."