Ahead of the gold medal match at the U18 FIVB World Championships in Egypt, emotions were running high. The United States was playing Italy, which had beaten Team USA in pool play earlier in the tournament.
“We were more pumped than we could ever be because it’s the perfect time,” said Allison Jacobs, who also plays for West Ranch. “The perfect time of revenge. You’re in the finals of the World Championships, so we’re all on a high. Definitely the most adrenaline we’ve ever had.”
The adrenaline only increased after USA beat Italy in five sets. By winning the championships, the team had secured the United States’ first gold medal ever in the event.
“We’re all bawling because no one has ever done it before,” Jacobs said. “So we were definitely not shocked — we knew we could do it — so it was just a complete feeling of accomplishment and also because our coaches were really hard on us, so it was kind of just like a full deep breath like, ‘We did this.’”
Italy, in particular, was a difficult opponent because volleyball as a sport is so strong in Europe. Players don’t compete in college, they go directly to the professional ranks.
The teams had won one set apiece to open the match, then USA won the third on a block. Italy trailed to begin the fourth set but worked their way into a lead and eventually won 25-22.
The United States won the fifth set on an Italy error.
The tournament took place in Ismailia and Cairo, Egypt from Sept. 5-14. Jacobs said that she felt safe throughout the entire trip and the team stayed at an American-friendly hotel, but she didn’t get to do much sightseeing.
“I didn’t get to see the pyramids so that was a bummer,” Jacobs said. “I never felt in danger, which is good. I was very safe with my team, but it’s just so cool to experience a foreign country. It was desert, there was sand everywhere.”
Jacobs was prepared for the World Championships after playing in the NORCECA Games in Honduras last year, where Team USA also won gold.
Now that the World Championships are over, Jacobs is back with her team at West Ranch, which maintained its undefeated record in Foothill League play in her absence.
“I came in with the mindset of okay, new set,” she said of adjusting to prep volleyball again. “You can’t even think about it anymore. You learned what you learned and then you come in and play with these girls and these girls have their own strengths and you have to find their strengths and pull them out of them. So just keeping the energy and positivity up, that’s big for me.”
The Wildcats next play at Golden Valley tonight at 5:30 p.m.