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

Santa Barbara Volleyball Club 17 Blue Earns Bid to Junior Nationals

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The SBVC 17 team won a bid to the Junior Nationals after competing at the Far Westerns Junior National Qualifier tournament in Reno.  (Courtesy photo)

Santa Barbara Volleyball Club sent its 17 Blue team to the Far Westerns Junior National Qualifier tournament (a three-day competition) in Reno, Nevada.

Competing in the 17 USA division, out of the field of 39 teams, there were only 3 bids available to Junior Nationals this summer in Detroit, Michigan.

SBVC opened the tournament the #9 overall seed, and their season was on the line as they competed to win a bid.

On the first day the team went 2-1 with wins over Idaho Wave and 805 Elite, before losing to Seattle Jrs for second place in their pool. The top two teams both stay alive for a bid, so the team was moving on.

On the second day the team also went 2-1, this time with wins over Red Rock East Bay and Rocky Select. Their only loss came to 5 Starz, the eventual tournament champion who had already qualified twice before by winning two previous tournaments this season.

The match went to a deciding 3rd set, and SBVC was the only team the entire tournament to even take a set off 5 Starz. With renewed confidence, and another second place in their pool, the team advanced to the Gold Bracket for the final day of competition. 

On the third day, the team (seeded now 7th of out the final 10) won their opening match again East Side Blaze in dominating fashion, moving them on to the quarter final round. There they faced Rancho Valley, another previously qualified team, and couldn't quite pull out a win.

The team was given new hope however — of the final 4 teams in the tournament, 3 of the 4 had previously qualified. Therefore, the other 2 available bids would trickle down to 5th and 6th place.

With four teams playing off now for 2 bids, SBVC had to win 1 match to guarantee at least 6th place and a bid to Junior Nationals. The match was again Sudden Impact; SBVC played their best match of the tournament to win 25-20, 25-22 to lock in a bid to Junior Nationals.

The bid is the first time a volleyball club in the Santa Barbara area has qualified and attended Nationals since 2013. 

"We as a team couldn't have asked for a better showing in Reno this weekend," Head Coach Dillan Bennett said.

"This has been a long season full of ups and downs for our players and families, and to come up to Reno in the last Qualifier of the year and accomplish our goal of earning our bid into Junior Nationals has been so rewarding; especially after all the hard work the players and coaches have invested. 

"Outside Hitters Brynn Sofro and Kendall Williams played their best tournament to date, contributing across the board in all categories. They both were steady in the back row, in serve receive and defense, and bought into our offensive system and tactics this weekend. 

"In the middle, Ally Mintzer shined on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively. Her block reads have improved dramatically, and she has made significant strides in moving her attack around the court on offense. 

"Overall, I am so proud of how far this team has come. We took a big chance on putting two age groups together to give each player on this team the best possible chance to be successful, and we hit our stride just in time at the last possible opportunity to qualify for Junior Nationals. After a few weeks off, the batteries will be recharged, and we will make our push to be competitive in Detroit."

The team will compete in Junior Nationals in Detroit from June 30 to July 3 in the 17 USA Division. The team finished the Far Westerns Qualifier in 6th place overall.

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