Local Athletics

Published on June 22nd, 2021 | by TLV News

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Oxford Volleyball Club Team Heads to Las Vegas for National Championship

12-and-under girls’ team ranks among top in the country

Small but fierce, the Oxford Volleyball Club’s 12 Elite team will compete among the nation’s best at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 28 – July 1.

The event marks the culmination of an exhilarating season. The 12-and-under team briefly hit the number 5 spot in national rankings early this year. They have since held a steady rank around 30th among over 2,000 teams in their division. The team has won seven tournaments, including the Delta Region National Bid Qualifier, at which they earned their bid to the USAV Nationals in the 12U National division in Las Vegas. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity and grateful to witness and teach these girls,” said Kacie Hengler, the team’s coach and director of the Oxford Volleyball Club. “Every day they step in the gym, they are so excited to be there and to grow as players. Even at tournaments, they are looking for an empty court to play on whenever they have some downtime, just to play for fun. As a coach, that’s what I want most for any team.”

Girls on the team range from 9 to 12 years old and represent a mix of schools, including students from Oxford School District, Lafayette County School District, Regents School of Oxford, Tupelo Public School District, and homeschooled students, including two of Hengler’s seven daughters, Grace (11) and Hope (9). 

Joe Williams is commissioner of the Delta Region of USA Volleyball, which manages sanctioned volleyball play for 8,000 members in Arkansas, Mississippi, and western Tennessee. Williams praised Hengler for her talents and leadership.

“Kacie Hengler has developed the greater Oxford area as a hotbed of volleyball,” Williams said. “While it often takes clubs many years to win a bid to the Girls Junior National Championships, she has fast-tracked the program with talented 12 and under players to secure a win in 2021. It will be fun to watch those young athletes develop over the next few years and continue to grow our sport in Mississippi.”

Hengler moved to Oxford from Southern California, where she played collegiate volleyball and coached high school volleyball at sports-dominant Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, California. Her collegiate coaches included Albert Gasparian, who won 11 consecutive state titles and 15 champions while at the helm of Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, and Tom Pestolesi, former USA National coach. Pestolesi also coached Kayla Banwarth, former head coach of Ole Miss volleyball, and Misty May-Treanor, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. May-Treanor was Hengler’s assistant coach during college.

“I’ve been really blessed with some amazing coaches,” Henger said. “I was given the gift of knowledge of the game and learning how to teach from them. It’s helped me grow a program here. My number one goal is to grow volleyball in Mississippi.”

Prior to competing in Las Vegas, the girls’ team will play in the Orlando AAU Nationals to prepare for the level of competition they will see in Las Vegas. The girls were given free entry into the Orlando AAU Nationals as a result of winning the AAU Super Regional in Birmingham, Alabama, in April. As Hengler coached the season through a pregnancy and delivered June 13, assistant coach Christabell Hamilton will oversee the girls’ play in Orlando and Las Vegas.

“It has been a great honor to have a front seat to the growth of the 12 Elite team,” assistant coach Christabell Hamilton said. “We can all learn a lot from these little women. Their competitiveness and their will to fight for every point is why their accomplishments have been unparalleled. They have all of this while loving each other and motivating each other.”

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Oxford Volleyball Club was established in September of 2014 and is focused on developing middle and high school aged athletes to become the top volleyball players in the Delta Region. 

If you’d like more information, please contact Kacie Hengler, Director of Oxford Volleyball Club at opvckacie@gmail.com / (707) 235-2091.

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.



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