It's an old adage, to be the best you play the best.
And, in the case of Peaster's Kennedy Warren, it also helps to play WITH the best.
The senior volleyball player spent 10 days in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this summer playing for Team USA as an A1 team member in hopes of landing a spot on the USA Volleyball National Team. She was selected as one of the top 24 girls in her age group (17-Under) after competing at qualifying events during the club season.
"It was really cool," Warren said of the experience. "I knew some of the other girls from playing against their teams during the club season, but you don’t get to know them as a person.
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"It was really nice getting to know these girls on a more personal level. The workouts were intense, but we got a lot of time to just hang out too."
Warren is no stranger to high competition. Her Peaster High School Lady Greyhounds reached the Class 3A state finals last season and the semifinals the year before. Also, her 14-under club team won a couple of national qualifying tournaments and her 17-under team won the Far Western National Qualifier last season.
"Playing in those gold bracket matches against the best teams in the nation was similar to the experience of playing against the international teams," she said. "One major difference was that we played by international rules, which are quite a bit different."
During the Florida event, following five days of training the girls were divided into two teams of 12 and competed in an international tournament. Her team finished seventh in the elite event with wins over Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Manatoba and eventual silver medalists USA Youth A1.
The whole purpose of the experience is to receive training and consideration for a spot on the Youth or Junior National Team in 2018.
At each of the USA Volleyball national qualifier tournaments they also hold High Performance (HP) tryouts. In that tryout players went through drills, competitions, and measurements were taken of such things as vertical jump and reach. The HP coaches compared the results of all the tryouts nationwide and invited the 24 girls who made up her age group at the HP Championships
"I was hoping that I would get a high-level invitation because my club coaches had encouraged me to try out, and I felt like I did really well at the tryout. When it actually happened, it was a little bit hard to believe," Warren said.
Of course, she expects the experience to help her as she tries to lead the Lady Greyhounds to their first state championship.
"Getting to learn from the coaches and other players in the USA program was a really great experience for her this summer, and I think that it really helped her grow as a player," Peaster Head Coach Autumn Threet said.
"Kennedy has played on some of the top club teams in the nation which resulted in some opportunities most will never have."
Warren played for Texas Image last year, and will be with Texas Advantage for my 18’s season.
"Club season is more than twice as long as our high school season, and some of those coaches are former college and professional players. So not only do they get more time to work with us, but they also can train us on specific skills," Warren said. "My coaches really helped me develop as a complete player, and I feel like that allowed me to do my best at the tryout."