The Bay Area Volleyball Academy Riptides are a club of 16-year-olds who play at the club level after their high school season ends. They work hard at improving their respective games - and use tough competition to do so.
The Riptides got just what they wanted when heading to the East Coast Volleyball Championships, held recently at Penn State University. The Riptides, playing in one of the more competitive levels of the tournament, finished fifth in a 95-team field.
This was the best finish for a BAVA team in its seven-year history - the club has teams in a variety of age levels - and it came at the right time. The Riptides lost to the eventual champion in a tough match. The Memorial Day weekend tournament had a total of 600 teams and 7,000 players from across North America.
Simply put, the volleyball was good in this place, and the Riptides put everything together at the right time and nearly came away with a championship.
"We just came together as a team because everyone wanted to win," said Kelly Galligan, who will be a junior at Archbishop Spalding this fall. "Everyone just stepped up and played their best. We just did what our coaches had been telling us all year."
The Riptides had a spectacular three days in State College. They went 8-1 against a very tough field, including scoring a big win over a team from Delaware that had beaten them earlier at a different competition.
"It means a lot to beat teams that had beaten us before," said Galligan, an outside hitter. "I think our coaches expected it from us."
Katie and Beth Radford coach the Riptides. Half of the team was in its first year of the club volleyball competition. The Radford sisters have plenty of sports experience, with Beth playing softball at the University of Maryland and Katie competing in volleyball at Robert Morris College.
The Riptides have players from a number of schools: Elizabeth Bell (Severna Park), Anna Chapman (Severna Park), Madison McGee (South River), Ashley Novak (Archbishop Spalding), Jackie Phillips (Arundel), Lindsay Burkhalter (Severna Park), Galligan (Archbishop Spalding), Emily Snyder (Archbishop Spalding), Kati Wood (Chesapeake) and Amy Crout (Annapolis Area Christian School).
Bell, Crout and Wood were the captains during the team's season, which ran from November through May.
BAVA is a nonprofit Junior Olympic Volleyball Club that works on giving Anne Arundel County girls a competitive experience in the sport as well as developing their skills.
The club also sent a few other teams to Penn State in different age brackets. The Waves 14's were the Turquoise Bracket champions, while the Cyclone 15's captured the Silver Bracket. The Breakers 17's and Hurricanes 16's also competed in the tournament.
But the Riptides were happy with their 8-1 record in the tournament, and everyone thinks it's an experience that they can learn from.
"It will help us," Galligan said. "[We will] have more experience." Galligan said she improved on different skills she had wanted to work on, and it will help her become a better player this season at Spalding.
The team's season now is finished, and tryouts begin for the next team after the high school season ends in late November.
Learning to bowl
Three local bowling centers are working hard to get young people interested in their sport.
Annapolis Bowl, Greenway Bowl and Severna Park Lanes are offering a program where school-aged children can bowl a free game for 100 days from June 1 to Sept. 8. Kids can come into any of the three places to bowl one game per day free.
This program has been done for the past few summers with cards for the free games. Cards also were distributed at area schools as part of the attempt to draw young people to bowling centers - and get them interested in the sport.
Annapolis and Greenway are exclusively tenpin facilities. Greenway has duckpins and tenpins.