Utica’s Londot, Highland’s Terry part of successful Mintonette volleyball club
MOUNT VERNON — When Utica’s Emily Londot and Highland’s Raina Terry start their senior years in high school, they’ll have plenty of stories to tell from their summer vacation: Their Mintonette club volleyball team.
Actually, their club volleyball started in January, took them through a series of competitions in the Midwest and South, a win in the AAU Nationals in Orlando in June and then, finally, to the USA Volleyball National Championships.
Londot and Terry’s Mintonette 17s team clawed its way to the championship final in a field that was as tough as any that they have ever faced. In the end, they lost in the final to TAV from Texas, two sets to one, but it was a great season.
“The (USAV Nationals) is competitive play from the first day,” Londot said. “There’s no breaks. If you think you’re going to walk through nationals, you’re thinking wrong. All games were tough, Day 1.”
While they had not played TAV this season, they did play them before and knew how tough they were.
“They’re pretty intimidating,” Londot said. “Most of the girls are over 6-feet and we don’t have much height on our team, but we have a few tall girls.”
The Mintonette 17s took the first set, but stumbled in the second set. In the rubber set, the Mintonettes led part of the way, but TAV prevailed in the end.
“We didn’t get quite the outcome that we wanted, but it was still such a good opportunity to play in a game like that,” Terry said. “I think we competed very well. I don’t think we did anything wrong. I think we played our hearts out, but it was a close game and it could’ve gone both ways.”
The Mintonettes walked away knowing that they were good enough to win that final set.
“I don’t know what happened to us,” Londot said. “We let down little bit. We had to come back fighting in the third and final set. We were winning in the last set, but then we just couldn’t finish it off. There were a couple of calls that were a little rough, but you can’t let the refs decide the game. You’ve just got to play it to your best.”
The ending of the season would have brought some sadness, anyway.
“It was hard because our team loves each other so much and we were crying because we didn’t want to say goodbye to each other,” Terry said. “But we couldn’t have been more thankful. We’re just glad we have another season together.”
Both girls will bring back their winning ways to their high school volleyball for the girls’ high school season, this fall.
“With my club team, I have learned a lot about mental focus and what it takes to win,” Terry said. “Everybody has to be so mentally focused. You all have to have the same goal in mind every day in the gym. As a senior, I have to help reinforce that in the younger players. We are all working toward that goal, every single day in the gym.”
Londot will have a young team around her this fall. What she learned in the club, and what she imparts to her Utica teammates, will be substantial.
“I guess just the competitive spirit that my club team had,” Londot said. “Hopefully, I can bring some of that back. We’re a little bit inexperienced this year. We have a couple of varsity players coming back at Utica. Hopefully, some of our younger players, coming up, will learn some of that competitiveness. My fellow seniors and I will try to lead the team and win games.”
They also have plenty of fun and great memories as they and their teammates saw America.
“It was so fun,” Londot said. “Actually, during AAUs in Orlando, Florida, all nine players on our squad and our parents stayed in a 32-person house. It really was a full house. There was a bowling alley in the upstairs of that house. So we have some dance parties, bowled and had fun up there.”
It was crowded, but their was never a dull moment.
“At first, I was a little apprehensive about all of us staying in that big house for a week, along with our parents,” Terry said. “As it turned out, we had so much fun. We didn’t think we would have as much fun as we did. We were with each other all the time. There was a bowling alley, but there was also a pool. There also was a game room. We didn’t get to go to Disney World, but we had our team dinner at the Boathouse, which is a fancy restaurant right around there. We got to walk around and see some Disney things going on. I hope we get to go back next year.”
Both girls will be back for their 18s year in club volleyball. It will, however, be a shorter season for the group because they will all be heading off to college in the fall of 2020. That means that nationals are in April instead of June, but it will give these close friends a final hurrah.
“Our setter, Scottee (Johnson of Centerville), and I got to be a lot closer simply because with her being a setter and me being a hitter,” Terry said. “We have to learn to work together on the court, but off the court too. There was also our libero, Madison Chitty, she’s a sweetheart. She goes to Olentangy Liberty. We were both recently committed to Indiana University, but we both ended up having to decommit, because they switched coaches. Now, she’s going to Rutgers and I am going to Illinois.”
For now, they will have to look across the court as they play on opposing teams.
“I’ll be seeing a lot of these girls at some of the summer scrimmages, so we will talk to each other there, but when we get on the court, it’s all business,” Terry said.
But now, they know each other better.
“Some of (my younger Highland teammates) get really scared when they see Emily, because she’s so tall,” Terry said. “I tell them, ‘She’s scary on the court, but she’s really, really nice. I promise.’”