1st Alliance 18 Black defeated Rage-Westside 18 Jen (Belmont, California), 25-23, 25-20, on Sunday to win the 18 USA division at the Beast of the Southeast Invite & U18 National Qualifier in Atlanta, Georgia, and earn a bid to the USA Volleyball Girls 18s Junior National Championship in Columbus, Ohio, April 23-25.
“This was truly a team win … from the players to the parents,” said 18 Black coach Matthew Madia. “From the start, this team really controlled all aspects of the game, especially on Sunday, with great serves, timely blocks and digs that got us in transition for great swings.
“There was a great flow to each match, and it was a joy to watch them battle each day on the way to winning gold at our second qualifier of the year,” he added. “Each day, these girls played their hearts out.”
1st Alliance 18 Black features 5-6 libero Caroline Doyle (Benet), 5-5 defensive specialist Kiara Zamar (Benet), 5-11 middle blocker Abby Sarich (Mother McAuley), 5-11 outside hitter Ewelina Gacek (Marist) and 5-11 outside hitter Chloe Gill (Oak Park-River Forest).
Also, 5-7 setter Sophie Hurt (IC Prep), 6-1 middle blocker/outside hitter Kailey Burns (Homewood-Flossmoor), 5-8 setter Sammi Bunch (Romeoville), 6-2 middle blocker Molly Boyd (Mother McAuley) and 5-10 outside hitter Erica Packwood (Crown Point, Indiana).
Gacek led the team in kills, Boyd provided the biggest block and Doyle paced 18 Black in digs.
“We controlled our side of the net throughout the tournament and had a lot of fun playing against great competition,” said Doyle, who led the team in digs during the weekend. “I’m so proud of this team and all the hard work we did this weekend.”
1st Alliance 18 Black went 9-1 at the qualifier. Its only loss was a 25-20, 25-21 second-round pool play setback to VA Juniors 18 Elite (Herndon, Virginia) on Saturday. Among the team’s victims was Rockwood Thunder 18 Navy (St. Louis, Missouri), 25-17, 25-21, in a Gold bracket quarterfinal Sunday.
Also in Atlanta, 1st Alliance 18 White (7-1) lost to eventual champion Wildfire 17 National Brian (Weston, Florida), 25-23, 19-25, 16-14, in a Gold bracket semifinal to finish third in the 18 American division.
Only one bid was available in the American division.