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The Greatest Game This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   This was what we wentfor. This was what would decide if we were the best team in the nation. It wouldall come down to who wanted it more. Our team was in the championship game of theUSA Junior National Volleyball Championships.

Our coach gave us apre-game pep talk, and then we walked cautiously into the New Orleans Con-ventionCenter. We gawked in awe as we stepped into the massive gymnasium. All 50 courtswere in use, and the place was filled with the sound of high-pitched whistles andshoes screeching against the floor.

Our team gathered on court number one.We were the center of it all. Our hearts were beating so fast it sounded as ifthey were humming. But they slowed and sank when we caught a glimpse of the teamwe were to play. Almost everyone on the team was six feet tall, with verticaljumps of at least a foot-and-a-half.

Taking the court, we started ourwarm-up drills. We suddenly felt about as small as possible. As I ran after awild ball that had gone onto another court, I caught a quick glimpse of the prize- the biggest trophy my eyes had ever seen. The three-foot tall, shiny goldtrophy was all I could concentrate on. I forgot where I was and what I had beendoing. One of my teammates had to come get me.

"Will Sports Courtskindly get off the court so Power 13 can warm up? The championship game willstart in five minutes. Thank you," the announcer proclaimed. We were told towatch the opposition warm up, but again, my mind drifted to the massivetrophy.

When we took the court, we all shook hands. I walked back to theline and took my place to serve. I held the brand-new ball. I raised my hand andwaited impatiently for the referee's shrill whistle. It came, and I tossed theball high in the air and made solid contact.

We had momentum right awayand scored the first of 15 points. After that, everything went wrong. We startedmissing serves and calls. We weren't communicating.

As we watched Power 13jump up and down for joy after their 15-11 win, our heads hung, and some of usmay have shed a tear. They received the glorious trophy, and all we could do wasapplaud. They had earned it. In the end, it doesn't matter that we didn't get thetrophy. All that matters is that the only game we lost was to the best team inthe nation.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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