A trio of local volleyball players had some success this summer while playing for Lexington United's AAU team.
Madison Southern's Sarah Mitchell and Alyssa Evans along with Madison Central's Taylor Thacker beat out 98 teams late last month to make it to the Gold playoffs and finish fifth in the Premiere 17-year-old division.
Mitchell also received All-American honors for her performance on the 17 Adidas team.
The Madison Southern athlete was chosen for the honor out of a pool of 100 teams.
"It's a great honor to have," Mitchell said. "There were 100 teams and 10 players per team and I was chosen from our team. I was very proud to represent my team."
Along with the Madison County players, the 17 Adidas team also consisted of three players from Dunbar and one each from Lafayette, Tates Creek and Henry Clay.
The team had to face adversity from day one of the competition -- taking on the No. 1 seed.
"When we first got up there we were really nervous, because we knew the team was really good. We ended up beating them and that gave us a lot of confidence. We then thought we could go far in our division," Evans said.
As the competition went on, the team started to rise through the ranks.
"We were seeded No. 55 and we made it all the way to fifth place," Mitchell said. "Our coaches thought we were going to go really far and we did, so that was great to prove them right."
Mitchell faced some adversity in the third day of competition when she rolled her ankle during a crucial challenge match. Thacker also fought through injury to help secure a team victory. The Central player has battled a nagging shoulder injury from last season.
The 17 Adidas ended up winning and clinching a spot in the playoffs.
However, the wear and tear got to the team after playing multiple games in one day.
"We did very well, regardless," Mitchell said. "I'm really proud of what we accomplished."
The 17 Adidas team was coached by Conner Zimmick, an assistant for University of Kentucky's volleyball team.
Evans and Mitchell said playing AAU volleyball helps them prepare for high school competition.
"It realIy helps a lot. The intensity is so hard and you are playing really fast with, and against, very talented players… (Playing like that) you are generally ahead of the other teams that you play in high school," Evans explained.
Mitchell said she has picked up valuable tips while playing for Lexington United.
"I think I've changed my mindset on reading the entire game," Mitchell said. "I've learned how to think ahead and predict where the ball is going to go and then moving."
Both players predict an intense season of Madison County volleyball as Model Laboratory announced the school is forming its first-ever volleyball team this year.
"I think its going to go really well. I think (Southern) is going to be really good, just because of the intensity of Sarah and myself and we have such good hitters this year. It's really nice to play with other players from different teams because you can kind of see how their high school season is going as well," Evans said.