KANSAS CITY, MO – There’s a temptation to think the MadFrog 13 Elite squad had a breezy run through the Triple Crown NIT, going 9-0 overall with 18 sets won and just one set lost. But it’s likely the key to MadFrog winning its division had more to do with a moment of struggle.
Thanks to a character-building three-set grinder in the semifinals against Dynasty VBC, MadFrog understood how to work through the low points before claiming the highest ground in a 25-13, 25-22 victory over FarOut in the title match.
Things looked more than a little distressing for MadFrog in the semis, falling behind Dynasty 14-5 in the first set. But despite the odds, MadFrog stormed back to win that set, 26-24. The hard work continued as Dynasty claimed second set, but the roster showed its tenacity and calm by prevailing in the final set, 15-12.
“It was good to see them challenged, and to see them fight back,” said MadFrog 13’s coach Stefanie Samuels. “Game 1 of the final – we were definitely fired up. That win against Dynasty for the semis was really tough and super intense. We came off of that with a lot of energy. The second set (against FarOut) got a little tighter; they’re 13-year-old girls, and sometimes the mindset is where they might coast a bit and be a little comfortable.
“FarOut was very good and surprised me in the final. We were able to hold onto it; the girls had their composure in the final and stayed calm, cool and collected.”
From a player perspective, MadFrog saw the semifinal as a true learning experience, with that wisdom becoming a perfect launching pad for success in the championship match.
“It was scary; we were trying to get our energy level up so we could play better as a team. We got together, understood we needed a good pass, good set, good hit,” said MadFrog’s Karli Jordan. “Our adrenaline was up; we kind of needed to calm down and get ourselves right. We knew working as a team would get us through the (final). That was fun and stressful at the same time.”
“Our team just tried to hold on; everyone just suddenly got together, and we kept going until the end. It paid off. That let us know we still have the ability to (perform well), so don’t give up no matter how down we are,” said Sophia Wei. “Going into the final, we were more pumped up. After that (comeback win), we felt good about ourselves. For the finals, we had pushed so hard, so we continued fighting until the end. Our coach called a timeout in second set and got us back on track and checked back in mentally, and we realized that it was time to get business done or else it would be too late. We accomplished a lot as a team, and it felt really good.”