Two teams from the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club – 18-Smack and 15-Smack – have received at-large bids for the Open Division of the Junior Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
“I think the coaching staff knew early on that we were an Open level team,” said 18-Smack coach Jason Donnelly. “We barely missed out on earning the bid at the So Cal Qualifier, but our overall record against the Open field made it nearly impossible for us to not be considered for an At-Large spot. It’s been a stressful week waiting to hear, but once we got word we received the bid, we were all very excited.”
“One of the greatest qualities of this team is its work ethic. We’ve been playing at a really high level all season, but they realize there are things to work on to reach our goal of a National Championship. We haven’t peaked yet and are looking forward to playing our best volleyball at the end of June.”
15-Smack KC Collins regarding the bid:
“This is a great reward for the hard work the team has put in all season. We knew the competition this season was going to be solid. The goal has always been to work hard and learn as much as possible at practice, give our best in every match to win it, and let the chips fall where they may. We have been getting steadily better and more versatile, in both our physical and mental game, and plan to continue on that track. This bid was truly earned all season long and they really do deserve this opportunity to compete among the top teams in July.”
Meanwhile, the 13s,14s and 18s played this past weekend in their last regular season tournament. There were no playoffs.
The 14-Smack team beat Starlings Monrovia 14′s, Tustin 14-Mark and DSVC 14-DR to win its pool in division 2. The team had an exciting rematch against Starlings Monrovia where both teams battled point-for-point and eventually Santa Barbara came out on top in the deciding third game.
From Greg Novak: “The team continues to show improvement by having very successful back-to-back weekends and moving into division one. It’s never easy starting off the day as the lowest seed but once everyone began to taste victory, there was no stopping their momentum. Peyton Shelburne continues to rattle off points with tough serving as well as Taylor Nation who finished off the day with the last six serves in the last match. Moving into division one was the team goal all season and I’m very proud of the way they were able to complete their mission.”
In division 6, the 13-Smack team beat Surf City Girls 14-Colleen and lost to South County 14-Blue and Impact 13-Kristen to place third for the day.
The 14-Blue team also finished 3rd for the day in division 7 beating 805 Elite 14-Blue, before losing to Club West 13-National and Saddleback Valley 13-Shannon.
“It was a roller coaster day with some of our best playing this season. Eden Williams played good defense and Quincey Kras had some great hits as the opposite. Lauren Suh played very well all tournament keeping us in rallies with great digs. Taryn Stevens served very well getting the team a 7-0 and 12-3 lead in two matches,” said Coach Katie Julian.
The 13-Blue team finished 2-1 in division 12 with wins over Bakersfield 13-1 and Legacy 13s and a loss to Yucaipa 14s.
According to coach Kim Buktenica, “We had another really great weekend finishing 2nd in our pool! The girls are on fire and all playing really well. Isabel Bassi had an amazing setting day throwing out juicy sets left and right! Autumn Rexford and Ally Drevo did a great job all day hitting from the middle.”
On Sunday both the 18-Smack and 18-Blue teams went 3-0 in their pools. Jason Donnelly’s 18-Smack team opened up its morning with a tight three-set match against Wave 18-Brennan, winning 26-24, 26-28, 15-11. The team then swept 951 Elite 18-1 Phiten and Long Beach 17-Rockstar to finish first for the day in Division 1. Jason Donnelly commented, “Amanda Moriarty played fantastic. She passed a 2.4 on the day, took some big swings on the left side with 18 kills, and finished the day with 26 digs. She was all over the place. And it was nice to see Holland Crenshaw competing at such a high level. She had 14 kills on the day and hit .350. She also seems to make a big play whenever we need it.”
Jacky Yao’s 18 Blue team also opened up and won a tight three-set match against SCVC 17-Roxy (26-24, 16-25, 15-9), then finished the day with back-to-back nail biting matches beating Legacy 17-Elite (27-25, 26-24) and Roots 18-1 (25-23, 25-19).
“The girls had a very good week in practice and it showed this past weekend. They came out and played with a lot of heart. Down in many situations, they found a way to pull through and went 3-0. Our transition was great and allowed us to score points in rallies. Cierra Merz scored consistently on the outside and hit for a high percentage. Frankie Lewis and Emma Mascari both had great days distributing the ball and Frankie terminated ball after ball on the right side. Mia Cattaneo was unbelievable on defense … she dug every ball that went her way. Overall, it was a very good weekend; definitely something we will build on for regionals and the AAU Championships in Florida.”