The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 18-Smack team finished among the top 10 elite 18-under teams in the country at the U.S. Volleyball Junior Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
After being edged out of the medal round by a team from Chicago, Santa Barbara regrouped and placed 10th in the 18 Open Division.
“Assistant coaches Kat Niksto, Tina Brown and myself couldn’t be more proud of this team and their accomplishments over the course of this entire season,” head coach Jason Donnelly said. “The girls practiced at a really high level, fought hard each and every time they stepped on the court, and continued to improve all year long. They had to earn everything, from a spot a top of Southern California’s elite teams, to an at-large open bid to the Junior Olympics. Finishing in the top 10 is a great accomplishment and something we will all remember for a very long time.”
Santa Barbara went 4-3 in pool play, beating Triangle (North Carolina), Colorado Juniors, Sports Shack (Southern Cal) and Orlando Volleyball Academy (Florida). The losses came against Vision (Northern Cal), Houston Juniors and Wave (Southern Cal).
“We played some of our best volleyball of the year against Triangle and Sports Shack,” Donnelly said. “We won a close battle against OVA, and even in the matches we lost, were playing at a really high level.”
The playoff match against Sky High 18 Black of Chicago was tight all the way. Sky High pulled out the win, 25-23, 25-23.
“A couple of bounces the other way and we may have taken Sky High’s place in the 18 Open final,” Donnelly said. “We were two evenly matches teams. Unfortunately, they played a little better at the end of each game and were able to come out with a victory.”
Santa Barbara rebounded with a 25-20, 9-25, 15-12) win over Coast (Southern Cal) before falling to A-5 of Georgia in another three-set match (27-25, 23-25, 15-7).
“Beating Coast on the last day of JO’s was particularly sweet as we’ve had trouble with them this year,” Donnelly said. “Although we had a little slip up in the second game, we responded really well and came out with a really good win.
“The match against A-5 could have gone either way,” he added. “We ran out of gas a little bit at the end, but continued to play hard and ended the tournament the same way we started, competing at a high level.”
Except for Kristen Berlo, who is entering her senior year at San Marcos High, all the other members of the 18-Smack team are headed off to college this fall. Here are the team members listed with their high school and college:
Holland Crenshaw (Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton), Alexandra Eason (Buena, Cal Lutheran), Amanda Harvey (Laguna Blanca, University of Puget Sound), Sarah McKinny (Dos Pueblos, Vanguard), Amanda Moriarty (Dos Pueblos, Hawaii Pacific), Taylor Racich (Dos Pueblos, Pepperdine), Tristan Racich (Dos Pueblos, Azusa Pacific), Dani Rottman (Santa Barbara, Santa Clara), Katie Spieler (Dos Pueblos, University of Hawaii), Kristen Berlo (San Marcos).