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Chobee 14U volleyball team earns bid to nationals

The Chobee Volleyball Academy 14U team, which includes several Seminoles, celebrates after winning an AAU super regional tournament Jan. 16 in Tavares. From left, assistant coach Mona Baker, Miley Jimmie (TM), Preslynn Baker (TM), Daniela Sanchez, Tatiana Flores, Jenessa Arana, Emma Pereira, Alyssa Madrigal (TM), Lindy Harwas, Chaka Yani Smith (TM) and coach Monica Koger. (Kashyra Urbina (TM) is not pictured. Note: TM = tribal member. Courtesy photo)

The Chobee Volleyball Academy’s 14U girls team wasted no time to punch its ticket to the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships.

Teams can pay to enter nationals, but the more satisfying route is to earn a bid by winning a bid-qualifying tournament, which is what Chobee accomplished in mid-January in its first tournament of the season.

Chobee, which has five Seminole players, won the Big House AAU Super Regional, a tournament in Tavares that featured 22 14U teams. Chobee won all six of its matches.

“We did great. They listened and they put into play what we’ve been practicing,” said Chobee coach Monica Koger.
In the championship match, Chobee dropped the first set to Trinity, but roared back to win the second set and the winner-take-all third set.

“Third set we rocked it; we crushed them,” Koger said. “The girls played very well. I’ve been coaching the team for three years and that’s the best volleyball I’ve seen them play.”

By securing the bid to nationals, which AAU describes as the world’s largest volleyball event, Chobee can look forward to playing in a tournament that draws teams from throughout the country as well as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

“It’s the best experience like no other. It’s the best volleyball stage in the world. It is where you want to be,” Koger said.
Nationals are scheduled to be held in June in Orlando.

Tribal members on the team are Preslynn Baker, Miley Jimmie, Alyssa Madrigal, Chaka Yani Smith and Kashyra Urbina. Other players are Jenessa Arana, Tatiana Flores, Lindy Harwas, Emma Pereira and Daniela Sanchez. Mona Baker is the assistant coach.

The team continued it strong play early in 2022 with second place finishes in Gold divisions at tournaments in Deerfield Beach and Miami in late January and early February.

Chobee Volleyball Academy 14U assistant coach Mona Baker, far left, and head coach Monica Koger, far right, are joined by the team’s tribal players, including from left, Miley Jimmie, Preslynn Baker, Chaka Yani Smith and Alyssa Madrigal following the team’s championship win Jan. 16 in an AAU tournament. (Courtesy photo)
The Chobee Volleyball Academy 14U team finished runner-up in a tournament in Miami in early February 2022. (Courtesy photo)
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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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