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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 1:03 pm | A Few Clouds 57º

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Youth Sports

SBVC Seniors Finish Club Careers With 4th-Place Finish at National Qualifier

The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club 18 Blue team finished fourth in the Gold Division at the SoCal Junior National Qualifier.
The Santa Barbara Volleyball Club 18 Blue team finished fourth in the Gold Division at the SoCal Junior National Qualifier. (Courtesy photo)

Over the past two weekends, eight Santa Barbara Volleyball Club teams competed in the SoCal Junior National Qualifier tournament in downtown Los Angeles. All teams competed in different age groups and divisions of play. Four SBVC teams finished in the top 20 of their competitions, and the 18 Blue team led the way with a fourth-place finish!

For the 18 Blue team, this was the last tournament of their shortened senior season. The team wanted to play hard, have fun, and end their season with giving their best performance of the year. The first match of the first day however, tested that resolve early. They were challenged by Impact 18 Henry (28-26, 21-25, 15-7), but after pulling together a dominate 3rd set win, the team cruised through the rest of the day with wins over Assist 18-Gold (25-4, 25-7) and FCVBC 18-Ron (25-11, 25-13). On day 2 the team kept their focus and continued to play high level volleyball, steamrolling the competition. Posting wins over Commerce Crush 18’s (25-7, 25-14), Icon 18 Lightening Jeff (25-11, 25-10) and Eclipse 18-1 (25-23, 25-12), they earned the chance to play a crossover match – where a win would put them into the Gold Division (top 8) for the final day.

Coach Kat Niksto said of her team’s play: “I am so proud of the way the team went out the first 2 days and took care of the ball on our side of the net. Sometimes when you play lower level competition you can let your level drop as well – but the team did not let that happen. They had fun while playing, enjoying their last tournament together as a team.”

Facing off against SoCal VBC 18-Melia in the crossover match, the team proved they deserved to move on in the competition, with a dominating (25-11, 25-7) win putting them in the top 8 teams for the final day. The 3rd day of competition brought the first real challenging opponents for the 18 Blue team. In the quarterfinals they faced a strong, well balanced team in the Temecula Viper 18 Costa. After a first set loss, a line up switch provided the spark needed to bounce back and win the match in 3 sets (14-25, 25-18, 15-8) advancing the team to the semi-finals! There the team faced another strong competitor in T-Street 18-Randy. Both teams battled the whole match, there were some crazy long rallies, including balls flying off of feet, shoulders, even heads… but in the end, the team lost (22-25, 26-28).

Moving on to compete in the consolation match for 3rd place, the team competed against Club H 18-Bill and while they fought hard, they just ran out of steam and succumb (17-25, 20-25). Overall the team placed 4th out of 104 teams in the 18 American Division. “I am so proud of how well the whole team played this weekend!” said Coach Niksto. “They made the commitment at the beginning of the tournament that they wanted to go out and compete and have fun in their final tournament and they did just that. Audrey Baldwin and Phoebe Madsen both set the best they have all season long, while middles Kamille Williams and Delaney Mayfield were on fire offensively. Kennedy Klusendorf, Peyton Shelburne, Ciana Smiley stepped up with some big time blocks over the weekend, while Megan Seabury and Cat Hogan provided solid serve receive passing and were flying all over the court defensively.”

This marks the end of the seniors’ club careers. However, many will be starting a new collegiate career in the fall. Phoebe Madsen will play for Claremont McKenna, Audrey Baldwin for Embry Riddle, Kennedy Klusendorf for Eastern Illinois University, and Kamille Williams for San Jose State.

Coach of the 16 Blue team, Dillan Bennett, described the weekend as, “a great experience for our team. We played very well on Day One against some very good teams, it was great to see our girls rise to that level of competition.” Following a close loss to City Beach Black 16-1 (23-25, 25-23, 10-15), the team rebounded with back to back wins over Impact 16 Bryan (25-18, 17-25, 15-11) and BCVC Girls 16 Coral (25-13, 25-19). Unfortunately, the competition got tougher and the team couldn’t produce the same results on Day Two. Even with the losses to Mavericks 900 16-Black (18-25, 22-25), LAVA North 16 Adidas (18-25, 15-25), and SVVC 16 Steve (12-25, 25-19, 13-15) the team was within two points of potentially advancing to the Gold Bracket. Day 3 in the Bronze bracket, the team finished strong with wins over 951 Elite 16-2 (25-21, 25-13), AZ Sky 16N1 Edge (25-9, 25-23), and WAVE 16 Sean (25-21, 27-25) to win the Bronze bracket and finish 19th in the 16 USA Division.

Coach Bennett remarked: “The girls now know that they are only a few points away from being a Top 16 team, which will drive us to improve during these last few months of the season.” He also noted the outstanding play of, “Danica Minnich, who came back very well this weekend after recovering from a torn meniscus. She played great in the front row with her blocking, attacking, and most importantly, her contagious positive energy. Adyson Colburn, who had a nice tournament as well. Serving as our utility player; setting, attacking, serving and blocking very well this weekend. She is working nicely into her role of being a volleyball player. And Ally Mintzer, who came into her own as a blocker this weekend, sending countless balls back into the opposing team’s court. At one point, she single-handedly shut down the middle attack of a team on Sunday, and they stopped setting to that area. As her offense continues to develop, her defense is her go-to for us, and we rely on that in order to be successful as a team.”

The weekend started off with a close loss for the 15 Blue team, to SG Elite 15 Elite (12-25, 24-26). They followed that defeat however with a nail-biting win over LAVA South 15 Adidas (13-25, 25-16, 16-14) and then cruised past SDVBC 15-Jamie (25-20, 25-10) to earn 2nd place in their pool and advance to the top half of the tournament for day 2. That brought significantly stronger competition however, and the team struggled to find their rhythm on day 2.  They lost to A4 Volley 15-Purple (22-25, 21-25), WAVE 15 Marie (25-20, 25-17), and Rancho Valley 15 Premier (25-14, 25-23). Even though they were knocked out of the main competition, the team didn’t let that break them down. They rebounded for a strong 3rd day with wins over IMUA Smack 15-1 (14-25, 25-23, 15-10) and AZ Sky 15N1 Ambush (15-25, 25-17, 15-8) to finish 13th in the 15 USA Division. It was a strong showing for the team, and everyone contributed all weekend long.

The 15 White team had a rough first day of the tournament going 1-2 with losses to VCVC Girls 15 Yosh (6-25, 14-25) and SoCal VBC 15-Angel (11-25, 6-25), before closing out the day with a win over SDVBC 15-Adam (21-25, 25-20, 15-8). Coach Katie Julian said “the girls were nervous and definitely struggled with consistency in the first 2 matches.  Day 2 and 3 they turned it around and played the best I've seen them play all season!"

Day 2 the team went 2-1 with wins over Ohana AC 15 White (25-12, 25-14) and Reef 15-2 (25-13, 25-22), before dropping a close battle against Nfinity VBC 15-1 So Cal (21-25, 25-15, 12-15). Day 3 brought similar results, the team had big wins over Bakersfield 15-Pam (25-19, 25-9) and Mavericks 900 15 Green (25-23, 25-23), before losing another close one to LAVA South 15 Black (25-23, 19-25, 12-15) to finish 78th in the 15 American Division.

Coach Julian said; “Everyone contributed in our wins all weekend long, it was great to see such solid teamwork. Opposite, Olivia Andrews, was our kill leader with 28 and added 11 aces and 28 digs while middle blockers, Isabel Gira and Miranda Starkey, both played an important role getting 17 and 12 kills respectively.  Isabel was also our ace leader with 13.  Nothing was getting by our libero, Cat McQueen, who passed very well and added 51 digs.” 

The 14 Blue team is the only team from SBVC that competed in the Open Division – the highest possible level of competition.

"We were in the open division, which was a little bit above our skill level and volleyball IQ, but it was a good experience for the girls to see that high level of competition," Coach Jon Newton said. "We had a lot of good rallies and battled with the top level teams The whole weekend was a full team effort and everyone played well. We grew as a team and the girls grew as volleyball players which I was happy to see.”

Day 1 saw the team drop matches to Miz LB Rockstar (19-25, 14-25), Aspire 14 Rox (13-25, 11-25), and Sunshine 14 Westside (17-25, 15-25). Day 2 didn’t get much easier, but the team kept battling providing some very close matches that went both ways. After losses to Absolute Black 14-1 (22-25, 25-22, 14-16) and Forza1 Asics Red (12-25, 26-28), then team beat OCVC 14 Girls (25-18, 25-22). Day 3 brought a chance for revenge with a rematch against Forza1 Asics Red; the team didn’t let the opportunity escape them as they pulled out the win in a nail biter (25-20, 24-26, 19-17). They used that momentous win to help propel them to another win over SCA 14-Darrick (25-19, 25-23). The team finished 13th in the 14 Open Division.

The 14 White team geared up to continue on their recent success; on Saturday, the team went 2-1, posting wins over Prime 14 Asics (25-13, 25-16) and 14-2 SCVA (25-12, 25-9) before dropping a heartbreaker to the top seeded Forza1 West 14-Asics (20-25, 25-17, 14-16). Coach Steven Crossland said the team was “let by the strong setting by Samantha Crossland and fantastic middle hitting from Sage Streeter.” This kept them in the top half of the tournament as they continued on to day 2. Sunday, the competition was significantly stronger teams; the team battled, taking 949 14 Black G-BT to 3 sets, before falling (17-25, 26-24, 13-15). From there the team could not recover and dropped matched to Supernova 14 All Stars (12-25, 16-25) and WAVE 14 Kevin 25-25, 13-25).

On the last day, Monday, the team faced a powerful team, Bakersfield 14-Kyle (21-25, 18-25) and just couldn’t keep up, they lost is straight sets. Coach Crossland highlighted the play of Maisy and Jane Lewis, who he said, “played exceptionally well for the team in Monday’s playoff match. I think helped provide a spark after the stress of the competition on Sunday. Their serving was the best it has been all season and helped the team rally back from a huge deficit. I was thrilled how the team reacted and battled in the last match. It was good for the girls to see what top level competition looks like and where we are striving to get.  I think they are starting to understand how important serve receive and free ball passing is to our team success.” The team placed 62nd overall in the 14 American Division.

The 13 Blue team had a great first day, going 2-1 with wins over WAVE 13 Skylar (25-7, 25-15) and Legacy 13 Black (25-13, 25-14), before their only loss came to the top seeded team, SF Jrs RoShamBo 13-1 (14-25, 33-35). Coach Ed Gover said of that final match, “Tiffany Medel orchestrated a huge comeback with an 8-0 service run! The girls battled point for point before eventually losing in overtime points” (usual games end at 25 points, but you must win by 2 points). Day 2 was a stronger field of teams and the 13 Blue team finished 1-2 dropping down to the bronze division The played hard in the 2 losses to WAVE 13 Janna (23-25, 21-25) and SG Elite 13 Elite (20-25, 14-25), before posting a hard fought win over SDVBC 13-1 (24-26, 26-24, 15-4). Riley Borchardt and Paige Doughty once again showed great leadership in the setting position.  Summer Nestlerode and Maddie Oriskovich held down the middle position as well as Annabelle Tiller, Taylor Wilson and Elise Guerrard-Hermes on the outside.   Grace Johnson and Madelon Gunderson played really well on defense.” On day 3 the team played one more match, but lost to 949 13 Black G-BM (25-18, 23-25, 3-15) to finish 36th in the 13 American Division.

The 13 White team went to battle every match they played, working especially hard with only having 7 players. Coach Andrew Grimes said of the weekend, “Overall the he team showed much improvement over the course of the weekend, even if that wasn’t reflected by the final match score. We were led by outside hitter, and captain, Elie Largura, who played well all around while hitting the sets of Allison Franzen, who played exceptional on defense as well. The team was anchored defensively by the energy of Lily Singhass.” Day 1 saw the team lose battles with LIVEWIRE 13 Black (9-25, 14-25), WAVE 13 Jeana (11-25, 8-25), and Forza1 West 13-Asics (13-25, 17-25). On day 2 the competition didn’t get any easy, with losses to Jamba 13 Corissa (19-25, 7-25), Westside Warriors 13-1 (17-25, 21-25), and KCVA Thunder 13-1 (16-25, 10-25). Day 3 brought a win over WestCoast 13s (25-13, 25-17), followed by a back and forth battle to Sunshine 13 Premier (23-25, 25-22, 13-15) that the team narrowly missed winning. The team placed 96th in the 13 American Division.

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