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SBVC 18 Blue Place 9th at Big South Tournament in Atlanta

The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 18 Blue team includes, from left, Phoebe Madsen, Megan Seabury, Delaney Mayfield, Kennedy Klusendorf, Peyton Shelburne, Audrey Baldwin, Kristine Fimlaid, Ciana Smiley, Cat Hogan, Kamille Williams.
The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club’s 18 Blue team includes, from left, Phoebe Madsen, Megan Seabury, Delaney Mayfield, Kennedy Klusendorf, Peyton Shelburne, Audrey Baldwin, Kristine Fimlaid, Ciana Smiley, Cat Hogan, Kamille Williams.

The SBVC 18 Blue team played in Atlanta for the  3-day Big South Tournament.

After a long day of travel, with several delays and re-routes, the team took to the court Friday and started the tournament off with a bang. “You never know what the level of competition is going to be like on day 1 of these 3-day events," coach Kat Niksto said. "I was very proud with the way the team played very strong, consistent volleyball throughout day 1."

By posting wins over Hurricane VBC 18 Storm (25-19, 25-16), Trinity 18 Garnet (25-6, 25-6), and Atlanta Extreme 18 Raymond (25-16, 25-10), SBVC ensured smooth sailing into the top half of the teams for day 2. “Middle blockers Kamille Williams, Ciana Smiley and Kristine Fimlaid really dominated the competition, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball” remarked coach Niksto.

Day 2 brought more of the same through the first 2 matches, with wins over Komodo 18’s (25-16, 25-9) and Exposure Las Vegas 18-1 (25-11, 25-11), before a battle against the top seeded Dulles 18-1 team ended SBVC’s winning streak (25-27, 27-25, 10-15). “Outside hitters Kennedy Klusendorf and Peyton Shelburne led the way day 2. With strong serving and defense that kept the other teams off balance, they really contributed in our wins,” said Coach Niksto, who also praised opposite Delaney Mayfield  "whose quick attack was almost unstoppable this weekend.”

The second-place finish on the day was still good enough to put the team through to the “challenge/crossover match” that evening to determine who would advance to the gold bracket for the final day of play. SBVC outlasted Xcel 18C Select (25-19, 25-27, 15-12) to secure a place in the gold bracket and the top 16 teams!

“I was extremely proud of how the team battled in the crossover match” said Coach Niksto. “Even though it took 3 sets to pull out the win, the girls were fighting and pressing the entire match. This is the first time this season our team has made it to the final day of a tournament in the gold bracket – that’s a huge accomplishment! Even more impressive is that mid-match we had to switch our line up due to an injury, and Audrey Baldwin stepped up and smoothly set a 5-1 offense, while Phoebe Madsen took the offensive load on her shoulders and helped carry the team to victory taking 40 swings in that match alone.”

On the final day, in the gold bracket, SBVC lost a close match to SMASH 18s (18-25, 24-26) to get knocked out of the tournament.

“I am so proud of how the team played this whole weekend,” said Coach Niksto “A big part of our overall success was the consistency in serve receive passing, and the all-out amazing defense, both of which were led by libero Megan Seabury and defensive specialist Cat Hogan.”

The team finished tied for 9th place out of 117 teams playing in the 18 American Division.

Up next for the 18 Blue team will be another 3-day tournament, this time back in L.A. in April; while up next for all SBVC teams is the 16 Blue’s Mandatory #2, this Sunday April 3,  hosted at CSU Fullerton.

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