SBVC teams close to national bids in Las Vegas

Dozens of girls volleyball teams flocked to Las Vegas last weekend (Sean Robertson Photos)

Dozens of girls volleyball teams flocked to Las Vegas last weekend (Sean Robertson Photos)

Six teams from the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club traveled to Las Vegas last weekend to compete in the SCVA’s Junior National Qualifier.

The 18-Blue team came within a match of earning a Nationals bid.

Competing with just 8 players, the team survived 3 days of play to barely miss out on the bid in The American Division. The team blew through its competition on Day 1 beating Mavericks 900, Jr. Giants, and AVA 18-Black all in two sets with the highest score against them of 16. Day 2 the team swept SoCal 18s and 951 Elite 18-Phiten, then engaged in a 3-set battle against New Mexico Jrs winning 23-25, 25-23, 15-9.

At the ready: (L to R) Lourda Weger, Chloe Allen,  Luisa Cameron and Kamille Williams

At the ready for 15-Blue: (L to R) Lourda Weger, Chloe Allen, Luisa Cameron and Kamille Williams

?After losing a close first game in the 1st round of single elimination bracket play, we came back and beat a strong, experienced and athletic New Mexico squad. It was a great moment for John (Sener) and I to see the girls faces after coming from behind to win. It was a true team effort and everyone had an opportunity to step up in a big moment,? said Coach Jason Donnelly.

The team then went on to beat Rancho Valley 18-Select 25-23, 25-23 when their run for the bid was ultimately stopped by a loss to Tustin 18-Mark 20-25, 19-25 and the team finished 3rd overall.

?We had a great overall weekend. While we were just outside of qualifying, I couldn?t be more proud of our team?s effort,? continued Coach Donnelly.

The roster included Andie O?Donnell, Clara Madsen, Mia Cattaneo, Bailey Roach, Mariah Bell, Maddie Klusendorf, Katie Kim and Carly Yarnell.

The 16-Blue team, also competing with only 8 players, was close to qualifying in the Open Division with their run for the bid ended by a 3-set tough loss to Woodlands Wave 16s 21-25, 25-23, 13-15, the team who eventually went on to win the tournament.

The 16-Blue finished Day 1 efficiently beating Saddleback Valley 16-Brian, Seattle Jrs 16s and Club West 16-National (a team who placed 3rd and earned a bid) all in 2 sets. Day 2 was a fight, with the team defeating Coast 25-23, 27-25 and then losing to Puget Sound 25-22, 19-25, 11-15. In a must win situation, the team then lost to Woodlands ending the run for a bid. On Day 3, the team came out and pushed through to win another 3-setter against KJ Baden 16s, and then lost to Epic 16-Sato 23-25, 21-25 to finish 14th overall.

16-Blue head coach Jake Hong yells out a play

16-Blue head coach Jake Hong yells out a play

According to Coach Jake Hong, ?Tina (Brown), Paige (Craine) and I are really proud of how hard the whole team played in the tough 3 day tournament. McKenna Goss took the majority of the swings from the front row with many of them leading to kills. Anika Wilson played great not only in the front row as an attacker but also passed great out of serve receive. Dane Miller once again showed that she is one of the better liberos in the 16s division with not only great serve receive passing but unrelenting defense.?

The 16-White had a good run in the American division finishing 35 out of 132 teams.

?So proud of my team for playing their hearts out over the long qualifier weekend! It was really a 100% team effort as we battled to an 8-2 overall record; and came 2 points away from a playoff game to put us in the top 16,? remarked Coach Kat Niksto.

The team won all of its matches in 2 sets on Day 1 beating Arizona Rumble, Oaks 16-Taylor, and Fresno 16s. Day 2 the team beat Coastline 16s to open the day, but lost a close encounter with California Blue 16-National 25-17, 20-25, 13-15. Rebounding back, the team won the last match of the day defeating Legacy 16s in 3-sets and all three matches on Day 3 beating NNJ 16s, Seal Beach 16-rick and 900 16s to win the Bronze A bracket.

?Our 3 game battle and win against Legacy, a rowdy Texas team, felt pretty good; all the parents really got involved cheering, it made it feel like a championship match! Paige Mascari set an excellent, well balanced offense all weekend, and Katie Gallivan really came into her own in the middle, stepping up her offense big time! Tatum Vedder also came up with some big kills throughout the weekend, and continued her steady defensive play in the backcourt. Sam Sander continued her solid play as the team libero with some amazing defensive digs, and consistent serve receive passing all weekend,? said Niksto.

The 16-Red team, also competing in the American Division, finished the tournament with a 4-4 record.

Coach Marlon Ruckle mentioned, ?The whole team played very well as a whole, we decided to put girls in different positions and they stepped up and played hard. Avery Jones stood out all weekend, passing and digging balls, and she also served very tough and took charge on the court.?

The team lost 3 matches on its opening day to Sports Shack 16-Hon, Athena Alpha 16s and Mission Girls 16-Gold. Day 2 the team turned it around and won the first two matches against ACV 16s and Puget Jrs. 16-National, but lost a tight match to PPVA 16s 23-25, 19-25. To cap off Day 3, the team beat Club West 16-Red and Edge 16-Amy, and lost in the final round to SC Crush 16s.

?On the first day we lost our matches but we competed with the teams we played, and the games were all very close,? continued Ruckle. ?On the last day we made it to the finals of our bracket. We started the weekend in 96th place and finished 87th. Not bad for a weekend, moving up 9 places. All our girls played extremely well.?

The 15-Blue team ended its quest for a bid on day one losing a heartbreaking 3-setter to SCVA 15-Roxy 20-25, 25-21, 11-15. The team opened up with a sweep over SCVC Los Cab, suffered the lost to Roxy and then lost to Coast in 2-sets to place 3rd for the day taking the team out of the top 12 and contention for a bid. However, despite an early morning loss on Day 2, the team rallied back and won the next 5 matches to finish 13th overall. Day 2 opened up with a loss to SAS Red from Hawaii. The team was up 23-17 and let the set slip away and lost 27-29, and then lost the next set 17-29. The team then turned a switch and went on to decisively beat Club West 15-National and Impact 15 Highline. Day 3 the team blew through SoCal 15s, but had to hang tough to beat Epic 15-Breezy in 3 sets 12-25, 25-14, 15-11. The team got a much desired rematch against the scrappy defense of the Hawaii team and won in 3 sets 26-24, 20-25, 15-8.

Coach K.C. Collins recapped the weekend, ?The matches on Day 2 and 3 were exciting and indicative of how good this team can be. They played the best they have ever played as a team, dealing with lineup switches on the fly as injuries sidelined a couple players, and changing up defensive schemes to figure out how to beat the competition. The players really stepped up their games mentally and physically, including Chloe Allen who hit at a .270 with 185 attempts and Lourda Weger who hit a .220 on 152 attempts and led in digs with 72. Kamille Williams showed her versatility as she stepped in on the outside, rightside and the middle positions throughout the weekend. And Phoebe Madsen also made herself a weapon on offense, with several of the kills from the dreaded setters dump! While we didn?t qualify, I believe it was a great learning experience and turning point for this team.?

Jacky Yao?s 15-White team worked extremely hard all weekend. ?I am so proud of all their efforts and every girl contributed to our success. Despite falling short of our goal of earning a bid, I believe that the girls have showed that they can compete with anyone.? Said Coach Yao. The team started Day 1 with two wins over Cal Heat 15-Caliente and Aspire 15-Jeff, and dropped its last match of the day to Sunshine 15-Elite. The team beat Arizona Sky 15-Gold to start the morning of Day 2 and lost to Arizona 15-Open, both in two sets, then lost to Santa Monica 15-Select 6-25, 25-21, 15-8. Day 3 competing in the Bronze bracket, the team beat Woodlands Wave 15-Molten, and Club West Temecula 15s, and lost in its final round against LAVA 15-Brandon.

?The highlight of the weekend was probably our match against Sunshine; although we lost, the girls played with them point of point till the very end. Taryn Stevens stepped up as she moved from the right side to the left side and led the team in kills. Our middles Savannah Benz and Kaitlyn Connolly were instrumental to our success on the last day as they provided a spark to our offense.?