A local volleyball team of talented 14-year-old girls have bumped, set, and spiked their way through an extremely successful season this year. In fact, it’s been so successful that the girls are now slated to represent the Mid-Ohio Valley at the National level in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We’ve made jokes about being the hillbillies—like, ‘you just got beat by some hillbillies,’ Taylor Karcher said as she and her teammates chuckled inside the Armory’s gymnasium in Marietta where they practice once a week. “Most of the time they have no idea where the MOV is.”

Well, thanks to Karcher and the seven other girls on Tribe 14 National Volleyball Team, part of the Tribe Volleyball Club out of Parkersburg, West Virginia, the MOV is being put on the map as the premier spot for girls volleyball. This June, the girls are heading to Vegas where they will compete against 48 of the nation’s best volleyball teams. Having a track record of dominating their opponents who have even been in older age brackets, the group is confident they will bring the heat to Vegas.

“I’ve coached a lot of kids and these girls are amazing. They are one of the best teams in the state of Ohio and you just don’t see that down here,” Coach Ron Kidder said.

“Some of the teams they play, they have thousands of kids try out and they have a lot of talent to choose from. They are big in Columbus and Cleveland—they’ve gone to Columbus and beat the best in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, all the best teams in the state of Ohio.”

Kidder, who has been coaching volleyball for 25 years and is also a coach for Marietta City Schools, said each athlete on Tribe 14 Kidder plays her position perfectly and that the young women are very “coachable”—a trait that has served them well.

“We just played a 16 tournament with teams from Cincinnati, Alabama and Kentucky all with 16 year olds and they couldn’t believe how good these kids were. They all are going to be very successful,” Kidder said as he smiled at his athletes.

The team, ranked 39th in the nation and number 1 in the region, just began to compete with each other this January. The girls are from Marietta, Beverly, Waterford, Caldwell, and Phillipi, West Virginia and recently competed in their 4th tournament of the season in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There, they played two levels up in the 16s division and swept every set for a championship win in the gold bracket.

When asked about how they have become so successful, the girls, like any great athletes, answered together as a team. “We have a great coach and we just play really well together,” Anna Ritter said.

Top row from left to right: Emma Middleton, Anna Ritter, Coach Ron Kidder,  McKenna Halfin, Avery Wagner, Chesne Long
Bottom row from left to right: Gwyn Lori, Taylor Karcher, Madyson Long.

“It took a lot of dedication to be where we want to be on the court and in everything that we do,” Madyson Long said. “We always keep each other’s hopes up, even if we’re behind a little bit.”

Juggling volleyball, school, and all the changes brought on by the Coronavirus posed some challenges for the team, but the girls said they found ways to be resilient.

“It was hard because you couldn’t get into the gym anywhere and work so we basically had to go at our own times,” Gwyn Lori said.

“We had to come up with something new because it wasn’t our way of working out,” Emma Middleton explained.

“You could pounce a volleyball by your house and get a volleyball net and work on your vertical a little bit,” Long added.

School also remained a top priority for these volleyball champs. “Coach always teaches us that school work is your most important thing because it’s most likely going to take you somewhere in life so I think all of us focus more on school than we do the sport,” Middleton said.

Lori added to that saying, “you have to focus a lot on what you want to do and make sure you study and get ahead of schedule.”

These hard working student athletes can now reward themselves with a trip to Vegas—an opportunity none of them have experienced before. “A lot of us were just really excited because it’s just not something we’ve ever done before. It’s crazy,” Middleton said. 

“We just want to work even harder to get there to get a higher ranking,” Long said. The team will have an opportunity to receive a higher ranking going into nationals by competing in a tournament in Columbus on April 10th and 11th. 

In addition to their hard work and dedication, the girls attribute their impressive season to their coach and their families.

“We are very grateful that we have parents that are able to drive us places, pay for everything, bring us to practice—we are just very fortunate,” Karcher said as her teammates nodded in agreement.

Tribe 14 Kidder also has the support from the community. Stoked Coffee, West Virginia Gun Company, and Greenleaf Landscapes are just a few of the businesses and people who have sponsored the team.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the Tribe Volleyball Club can visit their website and call follow Tribe 14 National Kidder on Facebook and on Twitter at @Tribe14n.