The Santa Barbara 13 Smack team exceeded all expectations by taking 3rd place in the Festival Volleyball Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.
The team entered the tournament seeded 20th. Behind excellent serving by Kobie Jimenez, Brynna Hodosy, and Adyson Colburn and defensive play of Bella Gniadek, Delaney Werner, Francesca Engel, and Bridgette Tmur the SBVC improved their seeding 11th by 7-1 run in pool play.
In the 16 team winners bracket, the SBVC 13’s led by powerful hitting of Gabi Peoples and Delany Mayfield and outstanding setting by Liana Tacconelli, went on a 3 match winning streak downing the 6th seed Mililani 13s ( 20-25, 25-20, 15-10), 3rd seed Maunalani 3rd Degree ( 26-24, 25-16) and 2nd seed Sunshine South-Bay 13’s (25-20, 25-21).
In the finals, SBVC 13s lost the next two to 1st seed SG Elite (25-20, 25-19), and tournament winner VolleyUmet (25-16, 25-16) from Puerto Rico. The team is coached by Ed Gover and Vanessa Shaw.
From 14-Smack head coach Greg Novak, whose team finished in fifth place in Phoenix:
“We had one day to practice a new lineup before traveling to the desert heat so we were a little unsure if we would be able to find a rhythm. After watching the team play through the first two days with flawless play, capturing all six matches in two sets, we knew we found a good beat. Sweeping our opponent in those two days gave us a berth into the top 16 double elimination playoffs. Unfortunately our first bracket match was against the number two seed in which our first loss was incurred. Having dropped to the looser bracket, it was going to be a long road to get back into the top eight. Taking one match at a time, we defeated 949 Athletics, Sunshine South Bay, and then had the match of the tournament against Orange County. Trailing 8-1 in the third game, we slowly chipped away at the score and it was Allie Hodosy who maintained composure through the ruckus crowd noise and frazzled the opponent with a mesmerizing short serve.
Upon capturing match point, the team charged the court as if they had won the tournament, truly a memorable moment. Our winning streak was halted by SVVC Monty in another exciting 3 set match which sent us to a final match where we beat Desert Storm and ended the tournament in 5th place.
Having played 12 matches in four days there was an astounding change in the level of play from the entire team. Team Captains Allie Sundara and Phoebe Madsen did a great job keeping the team together during intense matches and long days as well has having the their best setting performances all season. Peyton Shelburne, Chloe Allen, Taylor Nation and Lourda Weger added fire power on the right and left side hitting positions. Allie Hodosy and Michelle Garratt shined in the middle with blocks and hard work spreading out the opponent defense. Emily LaFitte displayed her fire power serves while Emily Robertson provided the precision passing and defense as libero.
It was fun to watch the team play at this level and it was a great way to end the season.”