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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
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Youth Sports

Blenders League Youth Volleyball Tournament Recap

This past weekend the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club hosted its first youth tournaments of the season for the Blenders League, which is split by age group – 5th/6th grade division and 7th/8th grade division.

On Saturday in the 7th/8th grade division, 4 local Blenders teams competed with 3 out-of-town teams.

The Guava Girls team “had a lot of fun and improved a lot as a team” said Coach McKinney. “Once the girls started talking to each other and getting excited, they won their first match of the season! Katie Prudden brought a lot of energy to the team and Abby Carroll and Kyla Robbins made some really great plays. As a team, the girls played great together and I can't wait to see them progress further throughout the season!”

The Strawberry Spikers team, according to Coach Bean, “stayed positive throughout the day and never gave up in any game, they always gave 110%. Sarah Jang was outstanding and definitely carried this team with her positive attitude and her aggressiveness. She wanted to touch every ball! Erica Prinz also had an amazing game she was one of our toughest servers out there. Overall the whole team did amazing and I am very proud of each and every player! I can't wait to see the improvements for our second tournament.”

The Pomegranate Pounders, “all brought their A-game, and did a good job of translating skills learned in practice into their game play” Coach Striff said of her team. “Serving was one component that really helped our team have success. Christine Naumann and Georgia Pennington especially, had serving break-throughs mid-tournament, and Sadie Leventhal had a great jump serve that had the whole team running over to hug her! Kailey Quezada, Fionna Pennington, and Ashley Day had some great swings allowing us to have a powerful offense; while Bella Lewis did a great job with ball control and digging. By the end of the day, we had less unforced errors, more excitement, and were finding our rhythm. It was great to see the girls having fun out there, and get better with each match!”

The Dominating Dates had an amazing first tournament, finishing in 2nd place! Coach Warmerdam said of her team, “we improved game after game and all their hard work paid off. Ally Reichel and Sophie Coito were our starting middles and played amazing considering that they have been training as outside hitters. Alessia Crikette played in every game as our starting setter and she continues to improve both in practice and in competition. Olivia Greyling and Katana Morris both filled in as setters as well, and despite the new position, they both played amazing and improved throughout the tournament. Emily Donelan and Maddie Braniff were my star passers of the tournament. They hustled in every play and never let a ball hit the floor without a diving effort. Amara Muth and Sierra Chesluk dominated as hitters and kept the team motivated when we were down. Their encouragement and leadership helped us have such a successful tournament!”

On Sunday, the 5th/6th grade divisions took to the court for their first tournament of the season.

The Cranberry Crushers made it to the championship match and ended up getting second in the tournament! Coach McGough remarked of her team, “the girls played awesome together and it was fun to see everything we had worked on in practice come together in competition. The girls continued to cheer each other on and practiced all of our cheers. I would say one of the main highlights of the tournament was definitely our serving. Kaitlyn Tang was an amazing asset to the team from the service line, getting multiple aces in a row. There was also great serving from Charlotte Bennet and Eloise McGibben. Gigi Geyer, Charlotte Caesar, and Ella Kruegar were also very aggressive in their front row attacks. Overall, the team played very well and had a lot of fun in the tournament!”

The Blueberry Aces “fought well in our matches today” said Coach Wever. “Our team had great serves from Jaelyn Valles, Hannah Markham, and Isabella Valentine. Our passing improved throughout the day with great scrappiness by Mia Marcillac. We thought of some new great cheers and had great team spirit from all the girls; led in part by the outstanding enthusiasm from Logan Galkin, Ireland Murphy and Olivia Barker. We also had a great little assistant coach, Amy Mancinelli while she recovers from a broken wrist.”

The Red-Orange Rowdies “stayed positive throughout the whole tournament and had great communication on the court!” remarked Coach Bean (filling in for Coach Thompson). Hannah Bordofsky was a big player in this tournament as she helped her teammates get better. She always kept our side of the court loud which put pressure on the other teams. The team as a whole had a great serving day! All the girls did amazing! I am very proud of the girls and I know they would have made their coach proud!”

The Banana Bombers team, “played well for most of the day, finally falling in the first round of the playoffs” said Coach Grimes. He also noted that the “strong serving from Jade Blair and Zoe King provided an offensive boost throughout their games, while Emma McWhirter and Olive Dorion both passed and set exceptionally well.”

The Wicked Wheatgrass acted like they had been there before, even though many of them hadn’t! Coach Sanders said he was “proud of how well the team adjusted to the gameplay setting. Many of my girls have never played volleyball before, and it's hard to mimic a real-game environment where parents and family are watching and there are lots of whistles everywhere and the venue is new; so I was really proud of them for adjusting so well. We had some great hits by Eliza Bell, some really consistent serving from Skylar Mees and Zoe Mixon (they've been working hard on serving in practice and it showed during game time). Along with great communication from Ivy Van Zant and Joie Hahs which helped us to convert after tough serves or hits from the other team, and great energy from Charlotte Kelly who had awesome touches on balls that I don't know if even I could pick up! Charlotte Kelly also passed a perfect 3 ball with her head in serve-receive! Overall it was a great weekend and the girls had a great time.”

The Tropical Fuzz Fighters team was “really excited to play and showed it with a ton of energy on the court” said Coach Rodriguez. “They really came together as a team and executed on serving, led by Mia Bazzani, Elena Andrews, and Heidi Hatton; and passing, led by Annie Knecht, Lauren Mills, and Alina Urzua. This led to being undefeated in pool play! Also contributing were, Lily Mires, Lili Brownell and Sophia Naumann who were able to make consistently good sets to our hitters and Haley Levine, Campbell Brown, and Brooke Hoadley all did really well hitting the ball deep for some kills. We made it to the semi-finals of the playoffs and had a tough fought game with SLO Fusion. Despite our first loss, I'm very happy on how we played and excited for the team's growth. I'm confident our team will continue to improve throughout the year and have lots of fun!”

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