18-Smack, 15-Smack earn berths in Division 1 for SCVA season

Two teams from the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club will start the Southern California Volleyball Association regular season in the highest division after taking first in their final qualifying pool in the gold bracket.

The 18-Smack and 15-Smack both went 3-0 over the weekend to earn spots in Division 1.

The 18-Smack beat Tustin VBC 17-Mark, Club Troy 17-Leslie, Coast 18-2 all in two set matches.

Dani Rottman (8) and Kristen Berlo combine on a block from the SBVC 18-Smack. (Photo by Suzanne Rottman)

“We reached our goal of starting in Division 1,” coach Jason Donnelly said. “While we are a little inconsistent throughout the day, particularly from the service line, beginning the season in the First Division is quite an accomplishment.”

Donnelly was pleased with the play of Kristen Berlo and Sarah McKinny  in the middle. ” They are adjusting to the speed of the game and are beginning to use their athleticism to score points for us in transition,” he said. “They both gained valuable experience this weekend and I look forward to seeing their continued development.”

He continued: “Amanda Moriarty has been playing some incredible volleyball for us.  She has been able to take the high level of play she has been bringing to practice the past few weeks and translate that into tournament play.  Offensively she is developing more range, and she’s been passing at a really high level as well.

“Dani Rottman is been steady as always.  Her weekend passing numbers were off the chart and she’s becoming more diverse offensively.

Coach Jacky Yao’s 18-Blue team finished 1-2 for the day,  and due to a 3-way point ratio tie breaker, they team placed fourth and will start in Division 8 for the season.

The teamlost to Fresh Start 18-Tisom, Protégé 18-Nike, and beat Golden West 17s.

“All the hard work the girls are putting into practice is finally starting to show,” Yao said. “The girls started to put everything together and took out a physical Golden West 17-1’s team. Our middles, Charlotte Garratt and Sammi Rhine, were sensational this weekend.  Emma Mascari and Frankie Lewis continue to improve as setters and are starting to understand the intricacies of the position. All in all, despite the final outcome, it was a good tournament for the girls as we get ready for Vegas.”

The 18s teams head off to compete in the 3-day Las Vegas Invitational over the upcoming Holiday weekend.

It was “1-2-3” for 15s teams. All three of the Santa Barbara 15s teams competed in the Gold bracket.

The 15-Smack team, placed 1st for the day in Torrance. The team went to 3 sets against a scrappy Club Oakley 15-Krystal team, but then swept the next two teams, LAVA-North 15-Eric and Legacy 15-Elite.

“We struggled in the first game of the morning, but, with help of the strong serving of Lexi Rottman, had a great come-back down 17-23 to lose 23-25. That woke us up and we finished off the match winning strong,” said coach K.C. Collins. “The team continues to show its versatility, and its strength in the middle.”

McKenna Goss and Emma Harrah were forces in the middle contributing 9 and 7 kills, respectively, with Emma Harrah contributing 5 of the team’s 11 blocks. Emily Allen and Jacqueline Starnes evenly led with a combined 26 kills on the outside, while Starnes really stepped up her passing.

“She has been working hard on passing in practice, and had one of her most consistent days on serve receive, while Dane Miller and Tatum Vedder also passed at a high level, which contributed to the team’s success,” said Collins.

The team will start the regular season in Division 1.

At Cypress College, the 15-Blue team had a strong showing,  finishing 2-1 with quality wins over PVA 15-Regional and 949 Athletics 15-JD, and losing to top-seededs T-Street 15-Curtis. The Blues placed second for the day.

“Outstanding  back row play by Erin Linehan, and consistent attacks from the outside by Hillary Bean, were key to the day’s success,” said coach John Sener.

He lauded the play of Camryn Kneip who came in and set the last game. “She really made some quality plays in that game.”

The team will start the season in Division 2.

Also at Cypress College, the 15-White team, missing two players for the day, finished third with a 1-2 record, losing to OVC Bakersfield 15-1, New Wave 15-Platinum and beating T-Street 15-Spurgin in three sets.

“We had a tough first two games against good teams and had some trouble passing and siding out,” said Coach Jeff Minc. “First game of our third match we lost badly, and fortunately, the team managed to rally and win the next set easily. The third set was really tight but we managed to close it out on a key swing by Phoebe Roberts.

“Avery Jones set very well , while Sarah Butler served very tough all tournament. Lauren Johnson, filling in as middle, was our best hitter of the day and team MVP for this tournament.”

The team will start the season in Division 3.

In Anaheim, the 12-Smack team battled well against some tough competition in the Gold bracket. The team finished fourth for the day and will start the regular season in Division 4.