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Santa Barbara Volleyball Club Teams Make Junior Olympics

14-1s win national qualifier title while 15 Elite squad finishes fifth in tournament.

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Competing in the Southern California Volleyball Association‘s Junior Olympics National Qualifier Tournament in Anaheim, the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club 14-1 squad won its division title while the 15-Elite team took fifth place. Both teams qualified for the Junior Olympics in Dallas.

After a disappointing seventh-place finish in Spokane, Wash., a few weeks ago, the 14-1s team came together, working even harder in practice to achieve its goal of obtaining a bid to the Junior Olympics. The team went 2-1 in pool play April 11, losing to TCA (No. 5 in the region) in two disappointing games. A day later, the team again went 2-1 in pool play, getting schooled by Mizuno Long Beach (No. 1 seed overall in the region and winner of the Spokane tournament), a team that had won the last two matches with Santa Barbara.

Starting the playoffs that evening, Santa Barbara beat SCVC (No. 6 in the region), which was a big turning point. The 14-1s had lost a heartbreaker to SCVC in a three-game match in Spokane, so the team was fired up to take a commanding win in two games. At that point, the team was in with a bid to JOs. The team came out even stronger April 13 to avenge its weekend losses, beating TCA in three games, 24-26, 25-20, 15-10, and in the finals beating Mizuno Long Beach, 25-18, 23-25, 16-14.

“We could have settled for sixth place and the JO bid by Saturday night and cruise the rest of the way, but the team played even harder the final day to finally beat rivals TCA in the quarter-finals and then Long Beach in the finals!” coach K.C. Collins exulted.

“The team’s unity and confidence in each other built daily, and by the third day of competition, rather than letting fatigue set in, they fired up and played even stronger and harder each match.

“We went in knowing we just needed to place in the top six," she continued. "But ... every player was healthy, playing the best volleyball they ever have, truly trusting each other to do their part, and the outcome was golden. They really have been working hard for this goal, and it paid off big time at the right time.”

Team captain Amanda Harvey had a post-match epiphany.

“I just thought of something," she said. "Not only did we just win one of the hardest qualifier tournaments around, but we just beat the number one team in our league. That says a lot about us.”

In addition to Harvey, the 14-1s team members are Nicki Brown, Ciena Colburn, Page Hawkins, Lina Kleinschmidt, Taylor Racich, Tristan Racich, Dani Rottman, McKenzie Scarborough and Kira Schleich.

Meanwhile, the 15-Elite team placed fifth in the three-day open division of the Junior Olympic qualifier tournament, with a 7-3 match record. The girls beat City Beach 15 Black in a closely contested match to give them the fifth place finish they needed to secure the bid for the late June Junior Olympics.
The 15-Elite team will compete at the Junior Olympics in Dallas Texas in late June!

“(Assistant) Jared (Godinez) and I are very proud of how our team handled all the pressure situations that they had to face throughout the three days of competition,” said coach Jake Hong.

Members of the 15-Elite team are Emma Campbell, Lauren Capritto, Paige Craine, Eve Ettinger, Cheyenne Godinez, Amy Lanski, Megan Smith, Aly Squires, Samantha Wopat and Sally Yingst.

Other Santa Barbara teams also competed in the Junior Olympics qualifier tournament. The 16-Elite coached by Erica Menzel had a great run in the 16s Open Division, placing 10th overall. Unfortunately, the team came out of pool play with a tie for first place, only to suffer the loss of a tie-breaker game to Cal Juniors 19-25, which bumped them out of contention for the Open bid. They came back the next day and went 1-1 in playoffs to place 10th overall.

The 13-1 team coached by Roger Kuntz also had a strong run in the 13’s Club division, placing ninth overall. The team entered into single-elimination bracket and had a heartbreaker loss to San Gabriel 13’s, 25-12, 25-12, which gave them a finish too low to secure a bid.

In other action:

• The 16-1 team coached by Greg Novak placed 51 out of more than 130 teams in the Club Division.

• The 14-2 team coached by Tina Brown finished 27th in the 14s Club Division.

• The 18 Elite placed ninth overall in the 18’s Open Division.

• The 17-1 team coached by Ed Gover finished 15th in the 17’s Open Division.

• The 18-1 coached by Dax Holdren finished 27th out of more than 120 teams in the Club division.

• The 15-1 coached by Chris Webber finished 36th out of more than 120 teams in the Club division.

Mark Schleich is a Santa Barbara Volleyball Club parent.

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