Orlando, Florida – VC United 171 Elite learned a valuable lesson the hard way at the 48th AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships at the Orange County Convention Center.
“I guess when coaches say every point matters, this is an example why,” said VC United club director/owner Eric Schulze.
VC United, seeded second in the 17 Open division, rolled through its first eight matches at the Orange County Convention Center, including the first two matches of its Round 3 pool against Dallas Skyline 17 Royal (25-20, 23-25, 15-12) and Impact VBC 18 Jay (26-24, 25-22).
But VC United ran afoul of Iowa Rockets 17R – which had dropped a 26-24, 25-17 decision to Skyline earlier in the day – in its pool finale, 26-24, 25-16. That forced a three-way tie in the pool with Rockets, Skyline and VC United.
VC United then learned the value of a point here or there. Skyline won the pool on a tiebreaker, with the Rockets taking second. Instead of moving on with a chance to reach the championship bracket, VC United found itself in the Ruby bracket.
“A 2-point swing in their second set against Skyline (lost 23-25) or in the first set against Rockets (lost 24-26), and at worst they are in a playoff, possibly advancing to the challenge round,” Schulze said.
VC United finished 9-2 and 19th, all for the want of a few points.
“It was a tough break,” Schulze said.
On the other hand, Sports Performance 15 Elite proved it does not matter how many times you lose … if you lose at the right time. The Aurora crew, led by AAU All-American Ava Novak (Benet Academy), went 1-1 on day one, 2-1 on day two and 1-1 in its pool on day three, and still found itself in the championship bracket on Friday.
SPVB 15 Elite, Tribe 15 Elite Dean and Team Pineapple 15 Black all went 1-1 in pool play Thursday, but SPVB won the tiebreaker and the right to face OVA 15 Black (Oviedo, Florida) in a crossover match.
A 25-20, 25-17 victory over OVA 15 Black sent SPVB 15 Elite into the championship bracket. However, the stay was a brief one. SPVB 15 Elite lost its quarterfinal match to eventual runner-up K2 15 Adidas (Louisville, Tennessee), 25-19, 25-23, and finished fifth in the 15 Open division.
Elsewhere among Illinois participants, Illini Elite 15 White defeated Hunter’s 15U Black (Hunter’s Creek, Florida), 15-25, 25-17, 15-7, to reach the championship match of the 15 Classic division against Miami Select 15 Adidas Black, which squeaked past Springfield Shock 15 Under Armour, 17-25, 25-19, 15-11, in the other semifinal.
Shock, which features a trio of Rochester freshmen including Sydney Dulin, Paige Carmody and Ellie Gegen, led 5-1 in the second set of the semifinal match when the Miami Select coach Pedro Avia Royo stopped play for 13 minutes (Illprepvb.com checked the video) to argue with the officials.
“That gave his team a huge break,” a Shock parent said. “The referee did nothing. That turned the match around. It would have been great to see Shock and Illini Elite (clubs separated by only 58 miles in central Illinois) in the final.”
Illini Elite, behind the Tri-Valley trio of Hailey Warfel, Tayler Peak and Braylynn Humphrey, Sydnie Hernandez (Normal West), Kindle Williams (Champaign Central), Cloee O’Donogue (Hartsburg-Emden) and the clutch serving of Emily McMullen (Normal Community), defeated Miami, 15-25, 25-15, 15-11, to win the 15 Classic championship.
McMullen seven the final 7 points of the match, including two aces, as Illini Elite rallied despite surrendering a 14-1 run in the second set and trailing 7-3 in the third. O’Donogue was also clutch in Game 3, reminding McMullen to take a deep breath and exhale before she served the final 2 points after a Miami timeout.
Other top 20 finishers among Illinois teams included Illini Elite 17 Cardinal (7-4 and 13th) in 17 Open; Fusion 17 Red (7-4 and 9th) and SPVB 17 C-Fed (8-3 and 19th) in 17 Premier; VC United 151 Elite (5-8 and 18th) in 15 Premier; and SPVB 15 Blue (11-1 and 9th) in 15 Classic.
15 Aspire division finishers included SPVB 15 Red (10-2 and 5th place), Fusion 15 Silver (9-2 and 9th), SPVB 15 White (7-4 and 9th), Chicago Elite 15 United (9-4 and 16th) and MOD Elite G15 Gold (7-4 and 16th).
In the 17 Club division, Chicago Elite 17 Elite and Fusion 17 Silver both reached the round of 16 in the Championship bracket before faltering, finishing 10-1 and in ninth place, while Illini Elite 17 Black went 12-3 and placed 20th.