The Lakewood Area Volleyball Association (LAVA) continues to have a significant impact on volleyball in Sampson County.
According to LAVA director Dan Heinz, the vast majority of top tier players in the city and county middle schools and high schools have benefited from the experience gained by playing volleyball in what is referred to as “the club season.”
The Carolina Region of USA Volleyball (USAVB) offers players from age 12U-18U the opportunity to participate in seven regional tournaments from January to April each year. The club season begins in late October and early November with team tryouts. Last season, LAVA racked up multiple tournament championships from events in North and South Carolina.
Prior to LAVA, the girls had to travel to either Fayetteville or Harnett county for club opportunities. Now in its seventh season, LAVA has girls coming to Sampson County from surrounding counties.
There are several reasons for playing LAVA, Heinz noted.
”We keep our team numbers small, nine or 10 girls maximum, so each girl gets one on one coaching and lots of playing time,” he said. “We have benefited from having great coaches.”
Lakewood High School coach Sheila Davidson is just one example. Davidson has been with LAVA for five seasons. She has taken three Lakewood teams to the fifth round of the NCHSAA state playoff finals, to add to her long list of conference titles. This past club season, she worked with a group of 14U players.
This fall, these same girls are now playing JV and varsity, and are leading their teams.
“We have had several coaches from Midway High School as well,” said Heinz. “Additionally, we have former LAVA players who are currently playing college volleyball who will be coaching.”
Another reason for playing club volleyball is that for those wishing to play college volleyball, playing club is the best way to be seen. College coaches like the club format because USAVB creates divisions based on winning percentage, so there is parity that does not exist in high school volleyball. In USAVB, if a team is winning it moves up to a tougher division. The one- and two-day tournament formats gives college coaches the opportunity to see multiple girls at a single event and it does not conflict with their own season.
LAVA volleyball will soon be hosting tryouts for the 2018 season. The 12-14U teams will begin tryouts Oct 21 and 15-18U teams Nov. 5.
For more information about LAVA, check out Lakewood Area Volleyball Association on Facebook.