SBVC’s 14-Smack earns open division berth at Junior Nationals

Dane Miller, left and Jacqueline Starnes of the SBVC 14-Smack scramble for the ball during the Junior Nationals qualifying tournament in Anaheim. (Photos by Jourdi de Werd)

The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 14-Smack punched its ticket to the Junior Nationals by finishing tied for third in the Open Division at the Southern Californnia Volleyball Association national qualifier in Anaheim.

The 14-Smack qualified in dramatic fashion, having to rally from an 11-6 deficit in the third game against Troy and pull out a 15-13 victory.

“There were not going to be any easy breaks, it was going to be a grind the whole way,” coach K.C. Collins said. “We were working so hard in our regional tournaments with our sights set on earning a region bid, that to earn the open bid at this qualifier was so exciting for all of us.”

The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club's 14-Smack won a berth in the Open Division at this summer Junior Nationals in Atlanta, Ga.

The team went 6-2 in the tournament.

Collins said the quick attacks and blocking from McKenna Goss and Emma Harrah opened up the team’s offense.

Emily Allen supplied offense from the right side and Jacqueline Starnes had one of her best weekends all around, Collins said. “Her offense was dynamic and her defense really made a difference.

“Hilary Bean’s unflappable court demeanor keeps the team calm and she never failed to spark it up off the bench with her tough serve, steady passing and blocking, and she made some key back row kills. Caroline Anderson stepped in on many occasions to provide a big block and add some kills of her own from the right side.  And down the stretch in many a match, Andie Dewerd came in to cap off games with her mesmerizing serve and some excellent digs in the back row.”

“Anika Wilson played outstandingly and really stepped it up with solid hitting and mad defense especially at the end when we needed her. Dane Miller continues to impress with her steady passing, and defensive maneuvers, rarely letting a ball drop. Lexi Rottman deserves huge accolades for her great setting and leadership, especially during pressured moments. She is very athletic, does a great job running the court, and never gives up on herself or her teammates even in daunting situations.

“Adding to the excitement of the weekend, Paige Mascari, who has been out for several months with an injury, came off the bench on Saturday to serve a couple must needed aces against Jamba, and then again on Sunday against Club Troy. It was an amazing team effort this weekend!”

In other action, the 14-Blue finished first in its pool on day one in the Club Division. On Saturday, the team went 1-2 to finish third and move into the Bronze bracket. The team lost in the first round of playoffs on Sunday.

“We were up against some tough teams at times but the girls hung in there and played better than I’ve ever seen them play before,” coach Kim Buktenica said. “All the girls deserve to be recognized for their efforts this weekend.  They all contributed something to our wins.”

The team finished with a 3-4 record and 47th overall.

The 13-Smack finished day one in second place in pool play. The team upset the second seed of its pool to win the match 16-14 in the third set, allowing the team to stay in the Gold division.

On the second day, while the team played well, they lost two of three matches and ended up third for the day. The team lost its first playoff match to finish 21st overall in the 13s division.

According to Coach Ed Gover, “Chole Allen, Kristina Garcia and Lourda Weger led the team in the hitting department, with some excellent setting by Allie Sundara and Phoebe Madsen. Also, Emily Robertson and Emily Lafitte played key roles on defense.”

The 15-Smack team placed 11th overall in the 15s Open division.

“I was proud with how the girls really battled through some injury and sickness to finish in the top half of this tough tournament,” said coach Jake Hong. “The team played some really intense matches throughout the weekend and learned many lessons from them. Evanne Jimenez and Bailey Roach both did a great job with their serve receive and defensive skills throughout the weekend. They were the catalysts to many of our big points.”

After placing second in pool play by going 2-1 on Friday, the 15-Blue team stayed in the Gold bracket in the Club division. Saturday the team won one match and lost two which put them in the Bronze bracket, and on Sunday, the team suffered an early loss to SMBC 15-2 with a close score of 25-23 25-17. The team ended the weekend with a 3-4 record and finishing 35th overall in the Club division.

“Due to injuries and missing players we had to modify our line-up all weekend,” said coach John Sener. “Claire Holehouse stepped in a set for us and did a great job. The consistent play of our middles Carly Yarnell and Amy Cregan kept us in every match all weekend.”