by Cody Thorn
The opening of the Triple Crown National Invitational Tournament was a humbling one for the Premier Nebraska 12 Gold team.
The Omaha-based squad went 0-3 on Saturday at the Kansas City Convention Center but looked better overall Sunday, posting a 2-1 mark in the 12U division.
Premier lost its opener on Sunday, 25-7 and 25-20 to KC Power 12-1, but then won the next two and finished fourth in the pool.
“I think what brought us together was when we get one win, we’d have a huge winning streak,” said Kam Bails, who wears No. 5 for the team. “It is crazy when, it would be like ‘hey, we won this; might as well win the next one.’ The confidence was huge.”
Premier got in the win column by beating Iowa Select 12 Mizuno 25-18 and 25-19. Then the Gold added another win over MAVS KC 12-1 in two sets.
The first set was close but the Nebraskans pulled away to win 25-22. The competitiveness carried over for both teams in the second set.
Early on, Premier held a 6-4 lead before going ahead, 12-5. Mavs KC got two points in a row to cut the deficit down to 12-7. Then the game-defining run happened, which included a pair of kills from Bails and an ace by Averi Scardina.
The next time MAVS KC scored – on a service error – Premier held a 22-8 lead.
“In the beginning of the game we talked in the circle and said what we need to do to win the set and win the game,” said Premier’s Aubree Fettin, who dons uniform No. 4. “The sideline helps with the energy.”
The Kansas City-area team made a mini-run late, scoring six points in a row to pull within 22-13. After a sideout, Premier ended the game by scoring the next two points. With Taylor Ann McLeay serving, a return volley hit the net and ended the second set.
MAVS KC, based out of Lenexa, Kansas, finished the day 0-3 with losses to Madfrogs 12s N Green and Dynasty Black 12 as well. Those are two of the three undefeated teams in the pool on Sunday, the other was the Texas Pistols 12 Black.
Premier coach John Castle was pleased with how his team responded to the adversity of a 0-4 start in the tournament.
“Yesterday was a good learning opportunity,” said the coach, who has brought a team down Interstate 29 for the past three tournaments. “We faced some awesome teams that showed us things that we improved on today. That is what we did; we came out and applied those things and had a mindset, or a theme, of bring it. We talked individually yesterday about what we will bring today. I asked are we better together? And of course we are. We just need to bring it individually and we will get better together.”