St. Charles girls are Force to be reckoned

Sunday, July 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:40 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Volleyball is the funnest sport,” Jessica Wilmes said.

“It’s MOST FUN, stupid. You’re going to make us look dumb!” her teammate Allison Pieper corrected.

Wilmes and Pieper were among a group of eight girls who gathered, giggling and gabbing, in a circle on the gym floor at Columbia College for the Show-Me State Games 14-and-under girls volleyball tournament. The team, Net Force from St. Charles County, was the largest and most lively unit, something their coach said is characteristic of the girls.

“This group really jells, they just love playing together,” Glen Keeven said. “Some other teams break up into little cliques, but I don’t think I’ve heard even one cat fight out of mine all year.”

The girls were particularly talkative and excited because they had just won another game and improved their record to 7-1 in the large tournament, something they were proud of.

“This tournament is harder because it is a lot bigger and there are harder teams,” Rachel Keeven said. “We get to play teams we haven’t played before.”

The new competition was one reason Keeven chose to bring his team to Columbia to play.

“The Show-Me games are known all over the state, so the name carries a neat prestige,” he said. “And the atmosphere is just awesome; they keep it really fired up.”

According to the girls, it doesn’t take much to keep them “fired up” about the game.

“We just love volleyball,” Wilmes said.

The girls said they think they will do “amazing”, and are pretty sure they will place first or second. Winning isn’t the reason they came though.

“It’s like a big slumber party,” Pieper said. “We just wanted to stay in a hotel and have fun all weekend.”

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