“When you play ball, leave it all.” Eleventh-grader Margo Schnapf played by this volleyball expression when her and her partner competed at the Rox Volleyball National Championships Aug. 2 and won first out of 40 teams in their age division.
Rox Volleyball, a volleyball apparel brand, partnered with the Florida Region of USA Volleyball to create the Rox VB series. Teams had to qualify to compete in the Rox VB National Championships at the end of the beach series. The competition was held at Hickory Point Beach in Tavares, Fla., which is home to the largest beach volleyball complex in the state.
Schnapf competed in the 16 Open division with her partner Jilliene Cangelosi from Jacksonville. Schnapf first met Cangelosi a few weeks before the event at a beach tournament on Siesta Key, but had never played with her until the competition. Schnapf felt that Cangelosi rounded off their team of two well, and was an important key to their combined success.
“Jilliene and I play extremely well together, despite the fact that we have never trained together. We each have a very well rounded set of skills, and we complement each other better than anyone I have ever played with. Because of this, I was expecting to do well, but I had no idea that we would win and play as fantastic as we did,” Schnapf said.
The team played a total of nine matches; each match being best two out of three games. In culmination, Schnapf and her partner played and won 18 games from July 31 to Aug. 2. Each game is played until one team scores 21 points. Schnapf and Cangelosi won the final two games 21–13 and 21–12, respectively. Knowing they were probably going to face an equally matched team in the finals, Schnapf and Cangelosi prepared themselves to win. Schnapf said, “ I was confident going in, but I knew we’d have to play our best to beat the team in the finals. I watched them play their semifinal match and they were a team with solid technique and crafty shots.”
She practices beach volleyball for six days a week, and has been for two years. Schnapf attributes a recent beach volleyball win to part of her success in the Championships. She said, “I competed in the USA High Performance Championships in Santa Monica, Cali., two weeks before, and the AAU Junior Olympics in Hermosa Beach, Cali., a week before, which gave me a ton of experience playing against amazing competition. The atmosphere in California is ideal for training, because of the strong winds and deep sand. Coming back to Florida, having been playing on the west coast, I felt like I was jumping higher and moving quicker, which was a great advantage.”
According to Schnapf, eight years ago her older sister started playing indoor volleyball and encouraged her to play the sport as well.
Once Schnapf and her family moved to Florida from Kentucky five years ago, Schnapf took notice of beach volleyball. “When we moved to Florida, beach volleyball was an actual sport, so I picked it up immediately.”
Having played varsity indoor volleyball for Riverview High School since her freshman year, Schnapf will be captaining the team this season. Schnapf said, “I have played as the outside hitter, right side hitter, setter, libero [back row passer], and middle hitter. One of my most useful skills is being versatile.”
Schnapf cites her role model as Brooke Sweat, a potential Olympic volleyball player in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Schnapf had the opportunity to meet her role model at the competition. “I had the privilege of being coached by her at the Rox National Championships. She is an extremely down to earth person, while still being one of the best volleyball players in the world,” Schnapf said.
For Schanpf, playing volleyball has taught her that there is only one thing to fear while playing. “The most significant obstacle is oneself,” she said.“The mental aspect is just as important as the physical one, and the mindset that you have changes everything.”
Schnapf wants to continue her volleyball career throughout college, but not professionally. “I don’t want to go to school to play volleyball. I want to attend a college that I love while also being an athlete for that school,” Schnapf said. “I don’t foresee myself pursuing the sport professionally, but I will always play, because I could never give it up.”