SBVC 13-Blue finish strong at Volleyball Festival

The 13-Blue team of the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club does a victory lap at the Volleyball Festival in Phoenix, Ariz.

The 13-Blue team of the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club does a victory lap at the Volleyball Festival in Phoenix, Ariz.

The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 13-Blue returned home from the Volleyball Festival in Phoenix with a sparkling 9-2 record. The team went on a 5-0 run to start the tournament in the 60-team field. The team’s only losses came at inopportune moments, costing them a chance to play for the title. Despite those defeats, the  team showed it can compete at an elite level.

The team got off to a strong start  with victories over T-Street 13-Raul (25-14, 25-21), Protégé 13-Elite (25-23,25-15), and Sunshine 13-Elite (25-17, 14-25, 15-10).  Liberos Devan Randolph and Taylor Robertson had an especially good day in the back court, refusing to let a ball hit the floor, according to coach Ed Gover.

Day 2 started with a victory over Texas’ Xtreme 13-Purple (25-20, 25-19), setting up a big showdown with third-seeded LAVA North 13s. The team brought a level of intensity that propelled it to a 25-19, 25-20 victory and found themselves with a shot at the championship bracket.

“The girls played the best volleyball of the season and pulled off the upset of the tournament,” Gover said. “Ellie Gamberdella, Allie Mintzer, and Chloe Mauceri  provided a balanced outside attack, with Georgia Brace and Kristine Fimlaid dominating the middle both on offense and blocking. Setter Keara Rutz distributed the ball well to her hitters as well as mixing in several kills herself.”

After a 2-hour break waiting for the next pool match, the girls found themselves playing until almost midnight against a difficult Saddleback Valley team.  The girls dropped the match to SVVC 13-Monty, forcing a three-way tie in the challenge pool and a mini-playoff to determine who advanced.  The team had to play SVVC again and dropped the one-game tiebreaker, pushing them into the second tier bracket.

Despite the disappointing loss, the team stormed back with an undefeated Day 3, fueled by strong wins against SVA 13-Khaos (Arizona), NW Pac Jrs 13s (Washington), and Pacific Jrs 13s.  Serving runs filled with multiple aces by Allie Mintzer and Alison Minnich made for the widest margins of victory of the week.

Day 4 the team opened up with a tough three-set loss to Coast 13-Kurt (losing 15-12 in the third).  The team bounced back to play one of its strongest matches of the tournament to finish play with a satisfying 25-18, 25-15 victory over Wave 13-Katie.

“Overall, the team stepped up and played their best volleyball of the season. It was apparent from the beginning that I could put each player in and count on them to deliver,” Gover stated.