CRESTVIEW — National prestige will be on the line July 25-27 for two Crestview volleyball players competing at the USA Junior Beach Tour National Championships in Milwaukee.
Brittany Pase, who graduated from Crestview High School this spring, will join Pace resident Lakaylah Bowen in the 18U division.
Marisa Rogers, a rising Crestview sophomore, will compete in the 16U division, teaming with Katie Brannon from Walton County.
Facing the best
Pase looks forward to seeing how she stacks up against the best of the best before heading to Jacksonville next month to start her college volleyball career at the University of North Florida.
“I think it’s good to see better competition because around here you see the good ones,” she said, “but you don’t see everybody that’s good.
“My coach (at North Florida) was really big on my going. She was like, ‘You need to go play. You need to go and get the experience.’”
This isn’t Rogers’ first national competition. Last summer she was selected to play for the USA Beach High Performance Future Select A2 Volleyball Team. She hopes to draw on that California experience as she faces the country's top players.
“The tournament (last year) was really huge because I saw what kind of teams are going to be there,” Rogers said. “But I’m looking forward to this one more because I’ll be going up there with my partner and not with somebody I don’t know.”
Rogers and Brannon, who have played together for two seasons, have developed a special chemistry.
“We mesh really well together,” Rogers said. “I’ve never played with anyone before that kind of knows how I like to play.”
Pase will be without her regular partner, Bailey Noon of Niceville, who can't make the trip. Although Pase has limited experience with Bowen, she thinks they fit well together.
“We played together for the very first time on Saturday, and we had never practiced, and we won," Pase said.
Keeping things in perspective
While Pase and Rogers would like to come home as champions, they realize they’ve proven themselves to be among the nation's best beach volleyball players.
“Just going is a huge accomplishment,” Pase said. “Just going to the tournament means you are one of the best of the best because you have to qualify. I don’t expect to win it all, but I want to win it all.
“There are girls that do this year-round. That’s what they do: they travel and play (volleyball). They do everything they can to win that tournament.”
The key to success will be not to get caught up in the event's grandeur, Rogers said.
“It’s more about playing our game because I don’t know them (the other teams),” she said. “Whenever I play somebody I know I feel pressure to beat them. So going up there will be easier on me, I think.
“I think getting to play close with a big national team would be huge for us even if we don’t win it all or win any games.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.