Michio Chicago's bid for national title ends with loss to club only 20 miles away

Michio Chicago 17 National advanced to the championship match of the 17 National division at the USAV championships in Las Vegas, but fell in three sets to Epic United/Diamond Elite from nearby Hammond, Indiana.

Las Vegas, Nevada — Michio Chicago 17 National took a circuitous route to the 17 National division finals of the 2021 USAV Girls Junior National Championships Sunday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

And after travelling 1,800 miles and weathering two must-win matches Saturday, who was waiting for south siders in the championship match?

A team from a club just 20 miles away across the border in Indiana.

“People were saying that the only way we’d play Michio was in the championship match, and they were asking me, ‘Do I want to play them?’” said Epic United/Diamond Elite 17 Elite coach Brian Zofkie, who also coaches high school girls at Shepard in Palos Heights.

“I’ve coached against those kids in high school or club for the past couple of years,” he added. “I’d rather play somebody we knew. I’ve had this team for three years and we probably played that group eight times. It’s probably 4-4, and today it could have gone either way.”

Sunday, it went Epic United’s way.

Epic United/Diamond Elite 17 Elite (Hammond, Indiana) stopped Michio Chicago’s epic run to the championship one victory shy of a national title, defeating the Illinois girls, 25-20, 19-25, 15-8, on championship court.

Michio Chicago (7-4) and Epic United (10-1) were deadlocked at 15-15 in Game 1, but a kill by Epic United’s Lexi Broyles (Kankakee Valley High School, Wheatfield, Indiana) capped a 6-1 run that put the set out of reach.

That’s when Michio Chicago’s MVP candidate, 6-3 outside hitter Logan Grevengoed (Chicago Christian), took over.

The daughter of Richards’ girls volleyball coach Troy Grevengoed had back-to-back kills to give  Michio a 5-3 lead in Game 2. She added another kill to extend the advantage to 7-4, then put any thoughts of an Epic United comeback to rest with a kill and a block to extend the lead to 18-11.

The junior banger finished the set with 5 kills and 4 blocks to send the match to a third game.

But the third set started badly for Michio Chicago, which fell behind 4-1 and later found itself down 11-4. Grevengoed’s final kill of the match, which pulled Michio within 14-8, only prolonged the inevitable.

The south siders had carried a 5-3 record into the Gold bracket after winning their final two matches Saturday, including a heart-pounding 25-23, 23-25, 15-13 victory over Dynasty 17 Black (Kansas City, Kansas) in a challenge match late Saturday.

Michio then defeated FORZAI 17 UA (Winchester, California), 25-20, 25-17, in the Gold bracket quarterfinals, and Mintonette Sports – m.71 (Columbus, Ohio), 20-25, 25-15, 16-14, in the semifinals to reach championship court.

Joining Grevengoed on the silver medal stand were 5-11 setter Caroline Macander (Mother McAuley), 6-0 middle hitter Mary Clare Brusek (Marist), 5-10 middle/rightside Kylie Brosius (Marist) and 6-0 outside Kamryn Chaney (Marist).

Also, 6-1 outside hitter Haley Melby (Munster, Indiana), libero Sarah Morton (Munster, Indiana),  5-3 libero Chloe Arteaga (Marist), 5-9 setter Maddie Kmetz (Andrean, Indiana) and 5-10 middle Destiny Johnson (Shepard).

Elsewhere Sunday, Sky High Adidas 17 Black’s visit to the 17 American division Gold bracket was short-lived. After winning its first eight matches, Sky High was ousted from the tournament by Gulfside 17U Pride (Naples, Florida), 25-20, 26-24.

Sky High Adidas 17 Black featured 6-1 setter Rian Baker (Fremd), libero Isabella Segoviano (Fremd), 6-0 middle hitter Claudia Wala (Fremd), 5-11 outside hitter Amanda Holsen (Stevenson), middle blocker Maddie Moan (Woodstock),

Also, 6-0 middle blocker Claudia Poehlmann (Lane Tech), 5-10 outside hitter/libero Amanda Cleary (Barrington), 5-4 libero Maddie Konopka and 6-0 outside hitter/opposite Ava Spaniak from Glenbrook North, and 5-10 outside hitter Ansley Morlock (Prairie Ridge).    

In the 16 Open division, 1st Alliance 16 Silver suffered an abundance of bad luck Sunday, losing to Northern Lights 16-1 (Burnsville, Minnesota), 26-24, 19-25, 17-15, and Hive 16 Gold (Farmington, Utah), 28-26, 19-25, 16-14, in pool play to fall out of gold medal contention.

Later Sunday, 1st Alliance defeated NE Elite 16 Top Gun (Elkhorn, Nebraska), 25-20, 25-14, and will play in the Bronze bracket on Monday.

1st Alliance 16 Silver is 5-9 setter/rightside hitter Calli Kenny (Willowbrook), 5-9 setter Jordan Heatherly (Montini), 6-3 middle blocker Annie Eschenbach (Benet), 6-4 middle blocker Jessica Schmidt (St Francis) and 6-0 middle blocker/outside hitter Kamryn Lee-Caracci (Lyons).

Also, 5-11 outside hitter Kennedy Wagner (Valparaiso, Indiana), 5-6 libero/defensive specialist Gigi Navarrete (Mother McAuley), 5-11 outside hitter Jessica Horwath (Barrington)and 5-6 libero/defensive specialist Vanessa Del Rea (Crown Point, Indiana).   

In the 16 American division, Michio Chicago 16 National will put its 8-0 tournament record on the line Monday at 11:00 a.m. (CDT) when it takes on AVA TX 16 Adidas (Absolute Volleyball Academy, Webster, Texas) in a Gold bracket quarterfinal.

In play completed earlier in the week, Lions 15-1 went 5-4 to finish fifth in the 15 Open division, dropping its Gold bracket quarterfinal to TAV 15 Black (Carrollton, Texas), 25-22, 25-14.