INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Three members of the Gallia Academy volleyball team, which set a school record for wins last fall, found success in the summertime too.
Grace Martin, Ashton Webb and Peri Martin — who are entering 11th, 10th and ninth grades respectively — were each a part of a Zenith Volleyball Academy club team that competed at USA Volleyball’s Girls Junior National Championships, played from June 23-July 3 in capital city of the Hoosier State.
Webb, who played for the 15-and-under Apex team, was selected as an All-American performer, leading her team to third place in the gold division.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it before, playing against the high level teams that I had,” Webb said. “It was so much different than any other tournament. It was really fast-paced and the team really came together. This was probably our best tournament all year and it was a really good experience.”
Webb played outside hitter all the way around and even played right-side hitter at select times through the tournament. The 15 Apex team played three matches a day for the first three days of competition, and finished with two more games on the final day.
“There were so many good teams,” Webb said. “It’s hard to wrap your mind around getting third place at nationals against all of those other great athletes, and the fact that they’ve put in the same amount of time and effort that you have, but you just overcame all the adversity.”
Since February, the 15 Apex team has claimed four event championships and is ranked first in the Ohio Valley Regional. Along with Webb, Sydney Moore of Pickerington Central also earned All-American honors for the 15 Apex team.
Grace Martin, a staring member of the 16 Apex team, moved up to help the 17 Apex team for the first time at nationals.
“It was a really good experience and I had a lot of fun with all the girls,” Grace Martin said. “At first, when I got there, I wasn’t playing because it wasn’t my team. The coach decided to let me play some, which was nice, but I didn’t play in my regular position. I played in the middle and in the back row.”
Grace, an outside hitter for the 16 Apex team, helped the 17 Apex team capture ninth at the USAV nationals. The 17 Apex team finished ranked third in the Ohio Valley Regional.
“It’s a different environment from the teams that we see playing in high school or just in Ohio,” said Grace Martin. “There are teams from everywhere with a lot of good athletes and there are a lot of coaches watching them. A lot of the girls were physically taller and stronger than the girls on our team.”
The 16 Apex team that Grace Martin has spent all year with is ranked 16th in the OVR and claimed one event title earlier this year.
Peri Martin, Grace’s younger sister, helped the 14 Apex team claim 14th at the USAV Junior Nationals after a successful season. The 14 Apex team won three events this season and was the top ranked team in the Ohio Valley Regional.
This is the first time the Zenith Volleyball Academy — which is based out of Columbus — has had three teams reach nationals. It’s also the first time two ZVA teams finished in the top-10 at nationals.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.