AAU volleyball players miss out on national tournament because of coronavirus safety concerns

AAU volleyball players miss out on national tournament because of coronavirus safety concerns
Memphis Metro Volleyball 16 Elite team (Source: WMC)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Club volleyball players work seven months out of the year for the AAU national tournament in Orlando. It’s still going to happen, but the coronavirus has caused several top teams to pull out of the big event.

“I saw a video the other day of a memory on my phone. It was a video of my friends and I putting our stuff on in the lobby before we were about to walk in together,” Memphis Metro outside hitter Layla Truitt said. “It’s just this sense of like we’re here and we’re here to work hard and to do something.”

That feeling won’t be there for Layla Truitt and her teammates, or six other Memphis Metro volleyball teams. The club made the decision to pull them out of the AAU tournament after it found it to be the safest decision with the coronavirus.

“It was not easy, because every year this is the top tournament for our top teams. Highly anticipated tournament, it’s the largest tournament in the world,” Memphis Metro Volleyball President Jitka Okolicany said.

Around 80 players had their seasons end abruptly including Truitt and her 16 Elite team. She just finished her sophomore year in high school and felt like this year they were going to do something special. They’d already finished in the top five in most of their tournaments.

“To end it this way and not be able to go, it was just really disappointing because nationals is kind of like our last dance,” Truitt said. “It’s our last try to really go for something and see all of our hard work and hours going into the gym into something big on the national stage.”

The time put in, is essentially a full-time job. Players spend upwards of five days a week practicing, working out or playing.

“We have a motto at Metro. If you’re not working hard, somebody else it,” Okolicany added.

Truitt took that to heart. She sent college coaches her at-home workouts to prove she’s being proactive during the pandemic. And hoping to come out of this in the best shape of her life, ready to win on the big stage, next year.

“I can’t wait to get back into the competition aspect again. There’s really nothing like the adrenaline rush of being on the court with your team, you’re in the middle of a play and there’s passing going on, everyone’s being loud," Truitt said. “It’s just really sad that COVID took that away and we couldn’t be in the competition together.”

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