By Adam Burns
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Since Ava Martin began playing competitive volleyball at age 10, Bartle Hall has served as one of her hometown venues.
Martin, now a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, Kansas, nearly 20 miles south of the Kansas City Convention Center, is playing in her final volleyball invitational at Bartle Hall at this weekend’s TC NIT.
And the outside hitter bound for Creighton is hoping to make one final memory at Bartle with Performance Volleyball Academy (PVA) in the TC NIT 18s Elite Championship bracket play.
“This is the last tournament we’ll play here,” said Martin, who was deemed a first team All-American by MaxPreps after leading Aquinas to a state title this past fall.
Alex Dvorak, a Park Hill South (Riverside, Missouri) senior, echoed Martin’s sentiment.
“We need to defend our turf,” the PVA setter said.
Following three Power Pool losses on Saturday, PVA, an Overland Park-based club, made a statement on Sunday, going 2-0 with straight set wins over MadFrog (25-20, 26-24) and San Gabriel Elite (26-24, 25-20).
In the win against San Gabriel Elite, PVA outdueled the California squad in a first set that saw 11 ties and seven lead changes.
Setter Alex Dvorak was pleased with her team’s bounceback effort.
“We stayed together as a team,” said Dvorak, a William Jewell College commit. “A couple people came up to us after we beat MadFrog and asked where we were from. I just said that we’re from here. We’re from home. It’s great to be able to say that.”
PVA head coach Justin Franklin agreed.
“Today we came out strong and did not look back,” Franklin said. “California is always going to bring the heat but we’re from the Midwest and we do the same thing. We have a bunch of talented girls who fight through everything.”
Now, PVA looks to overcome that 0-3 start and make some more noise on Monday when they take on the Arizona Storm at 8:30 a.m. Monday – the final day Martin and Dvorak and their Kansas City area teammates will compete in a building they’ve gotten to know quite well over the years.
“When we received an open bid to get here, we were like, ‘OK, so what now?’” Martin said. “I feel like now it’s about continuing to prove to ourselves. I’ve been playing here since I was 10, so I want to go out with a bang.”