Munciana foils SPVB 18 Elite's bid for AAU national championship

SPVB 18 Elite’s Ella Wrobel (pictured here earlier this season) had 8 kills in the second set, but the Aurora girls were unable to overcome Asics Munciana Samurai in the 18 Open championship match Monday at the 48th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships.

Orlando, Fla. — Sports Performance 18 Elite unveiled their bright new jerseys for the championship match of the 18 Open division Monday at the 48th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships at the Orange County Convention Center.

Unfortunately, it was the same old Asics Munciana Samurai on the other side of the net.

Munciana (54-1) won for the third time in four meetings with SPVB 18 Elite this season, overcoming a 17-15 deficit in the second set to defeat the girls from Aurora, 25-18, 25-21.

“The thing about playing Muncie is how many more matches they were able to play in their state (Indiana),” said SPVB coach Seth Salmon. “That was definitely part of it. They’re also a really physical team. They got a lot of block touches on our swings that made it easier for them to get digs.”

SPVB (43-3) advanced to the championship match by defeating Asics KVA 18 Red (Louisville, Kentucky), 25-19, 25-16, in the semifinals. Munciana, which did not drop a set all tournament, reached the finals by cruising past MiElite 18 Mizuno (Warren, Michigan), 25-19, 25-18, in its semifinal.

Munciana took charge early in the title match, building leads of 11-7 and 17-10 in the first set. However, the second set was a different story. SPVB won three of the first four points and never trailed until Munciana grabbed a brief 13-11 lead on a kill by North Carolina-bound Mabrey Shaffmaster.

“We knew if we could weather the storm in the first set, we could come back,” Salmon said. “Sadly, it was just one or two points that didn’t go our way.”

SPVB regained the lead, scoring 4 unanswered points to take a 15-13 advantage as 6-5 outside hitter and Wisconsin recruit Ella Wrobel (Plainfield North) sandwich a pair of kills around a pair of put-aways from Sandwich’s 6-3 junior middle hitter Audrey Rome.  

Sports Performance still led 18-17 following a kill from South Elgin’s 5-9 sophomore Alyssa Worden.

“For a small sophomore playing 18 Elite, she (Worden) held her own,” Salmon said.

But a pair of kills by Munciana’s North Carolina State-bound Jada Allen were part of a 5-2 run that prompted a SPVB timeout.

Wrobel got the Illinois crew within 22-21 with a smash off the Indiana block, but Rome was called for a lift when she tried to put a Munciana overpass away, and the handwriting was on the wall.

“They (the officials) thought the ball was too far behind her head,” Salmon said.

Two plays later, two kills by Munciana’s Notre Dame recruit Ella Hudson ended SPVB’s bid for a national championship.

Elsewhere in the 18 Open division, Illini Elite 18 Cardinal, which lost to SPVB in the championship quarterfinals, finished 4-5 overall and in fifth place, and VC United 181 Elite went 4-7 to place 10th.

In the 18 Premier division, SPVB 18 Kahl saw its season come to an end in the championship semifinals in bizarre fashion.

Trailing WD Nation 18 Adidas (South Louisiana) 12-10 in the third set, Kahl committed a service error. On the ensuing point, an SPVB player was flagged for reaching over the net on ball that WD was unable to dig.

SPVB was then issued a red card for disputing the call, handing the match to WD Nation, 25-18, 13-25, 15-10.

SPVB 18 Kahl finished third in the 18 Premier division. WD Nation went on to win the 18 Premier title, defeating Gulfside 18U Pride (Florida), 19-25, 25-15, 15-13, in the championship match.

Pipeline 18-1 finished 31st in 18 Premier, Sky High Adidas 18 Black placed 35th, and MOD Elite G18 Blue finished 40th.