SBVC 18-Smack go 9-1 at Las Vegas Invitational

Kristen Berlo shined against competition from around the country, and the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 18-Smack team went 9-1 at the three-day Las Vegas Invitational.

The tournament draws teams from all over the country, and is attended by several college recruiters.

The 18-Smack suffered its only loss against Texas Advantage 18-Black in the “challenge” match to get into the top 16 of the Open Division. The team placed 17th and won the Bronze A bracket by beating Coast 18-Ozhan (25-20, 14-20, 15-11), Mizuno Long Beach 18-Rockstar (25-22, 27-25) and Saddleback Valley 18-Kelli (25-16, 25-17).

“We responded to our only loss of the tournament by beating two of the most competitive clubs in the SCVA, Coast and Long Beach,” coach Jason Donnelly said. “It was great to see our girls rally together in the face of a little adversity.  We hadn’t tasted defeat too often this season and it was a feeling that they truly did not enjoy.”

Donnelly was impressed with the improved play of Kristen Berlo. Noted as an outstanding pitcher in softball, the San Marcos athlete has become a force as a middle attacker in volleyball.

“Kristen Berlo had a breakout tournament in the middle,” said Donnelly. “She’s a phenomenal athlete who gets better each time she steps on the court. Holland Crenshaw and Sarah McKinny were also very good in the middle.  We haven’t had 3 middle blockers this good in a long time.  They combined for 88 kills on the weekend.”

Dani Rottman was a powerhouse on the left side for the 18-Smack. She produced 42 kills, hit. 250 and was solid blocking.

“More importantly, however, was the constant leadership she showed all weekend long.  She’s not afraid to compete and consistently does what’s needed to help us get to the next level,” said Donnelly.

Tristan Racich and Amanda Harvey continued to battle it out at the setter position.

“They each give us a different feel running the offense and the hitters seem to respond to both of them. Tristan came in against Coast and gave us a nice spark on the defensive end,” said Donnelly.

“We have the ability to frustrate more physical teams than us with our commitment to defense,” he adde. “Our libero and DS, Katie Spieler and Nicole Tetherow, spearhead our defensive efforts, constantly giving the extra effort to keep the ball alive and give us a chance to score.”

Donnelly said the 9-1 record against national competition is something the team should be proud of.

“We still have some work to do, but feel great about where we are heading into our next tournament in San Diego,” he said.

The SBVC’s 18-Blue team competed in the Club Division in Las Vegas and placed 73rd out of 215 teams.

“Despite losing a couple of matches, the girls remained competitive and they are learning how to play in close games,” coach Jacky Yao said. “Once we learn to minimize the mistakes on our side of the net and take care of the ball better, we will be a pretty hard team to beat.

“Emma Craine, Mia Cattaneo, and Grace Halleck did great this weekend as our primary passers — we passed the best we’ve passed all season.  Charlotte Garratt played phenomenal and led the team in hitting percentage and keyed in a couple great blocks. Sammi Rhine stepped up big as the right side most of the weekend.”

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