A thrilling third-set comeback win against So Cal Juniors 15-Elite set the tone for the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 15-Smack team at the Southern California Volleyball Association Regionals.
With two players sidelined with injuries, Santa Barbara rallied from an 8-14 deficit and beat So Cal Juniors 16-14 en route to winning the regional championship.
The 15-Smack defeated Coast 25-20 in a one-set final.
“Down a couple of players, we really didn’t know what to expect for the weekend.” said coach K.C. Collins.
Dane Miller sparked the comeback against So Cal Juniors. She chased down an errant pass and her teammates got the ball back over the net and scored a point to make it 9-14. With Jacqueline Stevens serving, the 15-Smack scored seven straight points to pull out the improbable win.
The team then beat Epic 15s and Coast 15-Sam to finish the day in first place. Heading into Sunday, the team beat Newport Lightening and Saddleback Valley, but suffered a 3-set loss to Club West 14-Elite.
The team matched up against T-Street Curtis in a quarterfinal match and pulled out a two-set victory, leading it into a one-set semifinal match against Long Beach. The teams battled point for point until 15-Smack won 27-25.
In the final, Santa Barbara jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never let up, keeping the pressure on to win 25-20.
“Emily Allen had a particularly good day all around on the right side, playing solid defense and hitting well,” Collins said. “Hannah Seabury and Caroline Anderson worked hard and blocked well in the middle, while Jacqueline Starnes and McKenna Goss anchored the outside, taking huge swings and tallying kills every match. Our setter Lexi Rottman did a great job distributing the ball to our hitters, and earning a number of points on kills herself.
“Most impressive was our defense by every player on the court, and Tatum Vedder did a great job coming in to fire off ace serves and playing steady defense making some key digs,” Collins continued. “Dane Miller was amazing, she was digging everywhere on the court, really frustrating our opponents all day!”
The 15-Smack will next compete at the USAV Jr. National Championships in Columbus, Ohio at the end of this month.
The regional tournament was the final competition for both the Santa Barbara 15-Blue and 15-White teams.
In the Silver Division, the Santa Barbara 15-Blue had a great run for the weekend with the team going 2-1 in pool play on Saturday, “behind the consistent setting of Camryn Kneip and with the strong offensive play of Hillary Bean and middles Katie Gallivan and Gillian Fry,” said to Coach John Sener.
In Sunday’s pool, the team finished first on a tie after it smoked through Seal Beach 15-Erika and California Blue 15-National before losing to Tsunami 15-Black.
“The players played consistently and worked together as a team,” Sener said. “Our Libero Erin Linehan was touching everything on defense and Sarah Kang was serving tough and keeping the opposition out of system.”
The team handily beat Club Troy 15-Hallie (25-16, 25-9) in the quarterfinal match. The one-set semi-final was a thriller with many lead changes before the team finally lost to T-Street 15-Black 27-25.
“The girls were flying all over the court making one great play after another,” Sener said. “Hannah Craig was outstanding in her defensive effort and Delanie Jellison was putting away balls from every position. This was a great ending for these girls, to play with so much emotion and teamwork.”
The Santa Barbara 15-White went 2-1 on Saturday in the Bronze Division. The team opened up with a barn-burner loss to Golden West 15-Art 18-25, 25-17, 14-16. The team bounced back to beat Culver 15-Kelly and Point West 15-Amber.
On Sunday, the team had a tough 0-3 pool finish, but went on to win the next two rounds of playoffs, beating Westlake 15-1 and Tustin 15-Gary, before barely losing the final match to California Heat 15-TNT, 27-29.
“We played great the first day,” coach Jeff Minc said. “Jackie McIntyre had her best showing of the season and sided out really well. Sarah Butler set well in those matches. Despite our pool losses on day 2, we rallied and won our first two playoff games with Avery Jones setting well and playing good defense. Maddie Becker passed and played good defense, while Sienna Goggia also hit well from the opposite and had her best blocking tournament. Phoebe Roberts served well and made some big digs to keep is us some close games. We lost a heartbreaker in the finals but ended the season on a high note as a team”.
The 12-Smack team also finished its season at regionals. The team opened up the first day in the Silver Division with a 2-1 finish with a loss to New Wave 12-Platinum, and a win over Sunshine 11-South Bay and a tight 3-set win over SCVC 12-Roxy, 25-10, 19-25, 17-15.
On Sunday, the team competed hard, going to 3-sets against Tustin VBC 12-Alice, Beach Cities 12-Gold, and LAVA-South 12-Robe, but ultimately finished with a 0-3 record for the day.
“It was amazing to remember where the girls started the season and to see the progress that they have made to the level of play that they have achieved now,” coach Laura Marcus said. “They have amazing chemistry on and off the court and were able to pull out some miraculous plays.
“Danica Minnich and Caylin Zimmerman did an amazing job playing at the net. Izzy Mallet put her heart into all of the games and made some incredible defensive plays. Julia Fay proved that she does not like to lose as she led the team in kills for the weekend.
Marcus continued: “On the second day, Jenna MacFarlane gained confidence in her jump serve and had more aces than anyone could count. Taylor Robertson made two crucial digs that got us the momentum we needed to win the second game against LAVA South 12s.
“Although we didn’t win any matches on Sunday, the girls played with a lot of heart and dedication. They played better on that day together as a team than they have all season. Most importantly, they had fun doing it, and that is all I asked of them.”