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SBVC 18s Miss at First Qualifying Attempt; 15-Blue Move Up a Division

This was a busy weekend for the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club, seeing its 15’s, 16’s and 18’s teams all compete in Southern California Volleyball Association tournaments.

The 18 Blue team played in a 3-day event in Anaheim hoping for the chance to qualify for Junior Nationals. On Friday they posted 3 wins again Xceleration White 18-2 (27-25, 25-17), OC Heat 18 Tommy (25-7, 25-8), and Palmdale Starlings 18’s (24-26, 25-12, 15-12). Day 2 of the competition brought stronger teams in a very evenly matched pool. The team opened with a solid win against A4 Volley 18 Black (25-23, 25-15), before dropping heartbreakingly close matches to Central Cal Sr Select 18-1 (20-25, 24-26) and Prime 18 Asics (25-17, 20-25, 13-15). This knocked them out of contention to win a bid, and into the Bronze division. The final day brought one last match against Miz LB 18 Rockstar (22-25, 25-22, 11-15). Though the team fought, they just didn’t have the strength to capture the win on an exhausting day 3 of the tournament.

Coach Kat Niksto said of her team’s effort the whole weekend: “I am always proud at how hard this team fights, and it was nice to see them really start to bond as a team. My disappointment is in not being able to get over that hump of being able to step up and win the close games, when the tournament is on the line. I want to continue to help this team grow and mature as volleyball players, and my hope ia that in one of our next 2 tournaments, we are able to turn that corner.

"With such a small team, everyone contributed the whole weekend. Libero Megan Seabury continues to make jaw-dropping digs, while setters Audrey Baldwin and Phoebe Madsen did an excellent job of running the offense and often getting their hitters one on one attacking opportunities. The offense was led by middles Kamille Williams and Dani Abrams, whose power hitting is dominating, while outside hitters Kennedy Klusendorf and Peyton Shelburne learned how to start attacking down the line and tipping effectively to get kills. Ciana Smiley came off the bench to provide a spark of energy and showed her athleticism with some great block, with right side attacker Delaney Mayfield gave the team all she had with some great quick attacks despite battling being sick the whole weekend, before succumbing to an ankle injury late in day 2.”

The team hopes to recover quickly as its next tournament is a quick 2 weeks away – another 3-day event, this time in Atlanta, Ga."

The 16 Blue team competed in its first Mandatory tournament of the season, in San Diego, on Saturday. The team cruised through pool play, posting wins over Rise TO VBC 16-Blue (25-9, 25-19), Sunshine 16-Westside (25-16, 25-8), and La Jolla 16-Barb (25-14, 25-21).

Coach Dillan Bennett said: “This weekend was our best competitive volleyball we have played so far. Sophia Fay played the best defense of her season thus far, and dug a ton of balls. I also though Kendall White's defense off the bench was integral to our success today.”

Heading into the crossover match, with a chance to win and move up to Division 2, the team battled Sunshine 16-South Bay. After dropping the first set, the team pulled out a win in the second set, but lost a starting attacker to an ankle injury. While the team fought hard in game 3, they couldn’t overcome their unforced errors and lost a heartbreakingly close match (21-25, 25-23, 16-18).

The 15 Blue team was also competing in their first Mandatory tournament of the season, in San Diego on Sunday. The team opened the day with a win against VCVC 15-Yosh (25-21, 28-26) thanks in large part to Georgia Brace ,who, according to Justin Hertlein, "passed a 2.5 and led the team in kills." Next up was Pacific Juniors 15-Chris, who Hertlein said, “had defense that was unreal at times; but our middles (Kristine Fimlaid and Molly Kirkbride) overpowered them averaging 3 kills a set each and blocking a combined 9 balls in the match.” He also noted, “Taylor Robertson started heating up this match and didn't slow down for the rest of the day. She passed a 2.4 and was a digging machine at middle back. Her efforts combined with great swings from Kendall Williams, on the right, secured the victory for us (27-25, 25-10) against this super scrappy team.” The final match of pool play was against Blue Crush 15-Melissa. The team started out down 12-4, but after an impressive serving run, that timeouts couldn’t slow down, they scrapped their way back to win the first set in extra points. This made the second set much easier and the team secured the win (27-25, 25-11). This put the team in a playoff match to move up to Division 2. In that match the team blocked, passed, and out energized LAVA West 15-Black (25-13, 25-21) to secure the win.

Coach Hertlein was proud of the all-around, all-out effort by his team, “the girls had fun, ran a great offense, and showed more grit than I knew they had. Begin able to come back and win (in two different sets) where we were down 8 or more points was a new thing for us. It truly shows the fight this team has in them.”

The 15 White team on Sunday posted a 1-2 record; once again dropping close 3 set matches; this time against Epic 15-Dave (25-18, 24-26, 8-15), and SVVC 15-KO (18-25, 25-22, 13-15). In the last match of the day, Coach Katie Julian told her team to, “go out there and play hard and have fun” and they beat Momentous 15-Pat (25-17, 25-22) in straight sets! Coach Julian praised both Liberos on the team, Lyla Krock and Cat McQueen, saying they “played great throughout the day making good digs, passing well on serve receive and serving tough.”

Next up for SBVC teams, this weekend sees the 12’s, 13’s and 14’s back in action, along with 2 local tournaments for the club’s non-travel Blenders Volleyball Program.

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