Volleyball Girls Are Golden Again

SG Elite 12 Roshambo pose with their gold medals after winning the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships. Front row (L-R): Aleina Manaois, Veronica Bellodas, Lauren Lynch, SPMS seventh-grader Ava Conti, Ellie Chu. Middle row (L-R): Kaira Knox, SPMS eighth-grader Helena Foord, Taylor Yu, Sancia Williams, Mckenzie Kerrick, Addison Contreras. Back row (L-R): Assistant coach Sunshine Contreras, assistant coach Ramon Reyes, head coach William Wong, assistant coach Danielle Thomas, assistant coach Lola Foord. Photo by Texas Star

Two South Pasadena Middle School students and their club volleyball team SG (San Gabriel) Elite 12 Roshambo swept through the age 12 national ranks to claim the gold medal, losing only one set in the process at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Indianapolis on July 2.

In their last year of play as a team, SG Elite defeated the Boiler Juniors Gold team from Indiana 25-8, 25-7 on championship court at the Indiana Convention Center. The win comes as a repeat of their clinching the 2018 title at 11 Nationals.

“We kept working hard all season long,” head coach William Wong, who’s in his third year, told USA Volleyball. “We did do a little adjustment here and there (in this tournament) to maximize our strengths against other teams, like MadFrog, who beat us earlier this year in Denver.”

Team members Helena Foord and Ava Conti attend SPMS and will be going into eighth grade and seventh grade, respectively, in the fall. Helena said that their opponent in the semifinals, MadFrog from Texas, was a familiar challenge that the team rallied together to defeat.

SPMS seventh grader Ava Conti (left) and eighth grader Helena Foord celebrate after their gold-medal win on team SG Elite 12 Roshambo at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Indianapolis on July 2. Photo by Alane Conti

“They’re our main competition and we played them in the semis last year and we won like barely,” Helena told the Review. “This year we played them in Colorado, a qualifier a we lost. So we wanted to get revenge. They’re really good. That’s all they do pretty much is play volleyball. It was a big high that we beat them and it was really exciting. After we beat MadFrog, we all had faith in the team.”

In the final game, Helena credited the skill of the Boilers Junior Gold team and noted the unity of her team in staying strong to claim the win.

“I think we all had so much energy from the previous game and we brought that into the finals so we didn’t like sink down to their level,” recalled Helena. “We played like a team, and that’s probably the best we’ve ever played.”

Defying the odds of capturing a second championship, Helena said it was a fitting end to three years of play together as a team.

“Everyone was telling us, ‘Don’t expect to get two years in a row and it’s very unlikely and it’s really hard to do,’ ” said Helena. “We proved all of those people wrong and it was super exciting. My whole team was going crazy.”

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Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, government, sports, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer for five years for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. You can contact Skye with news tips and feedback at shannah@gavilanmedia.com / Twitter @SkyeHannahCA