Sports Performance’s 15 Elite team did the improbable Saturday in the 15 Open division at the 2019 USA Volleyball Junior National Championships in Dallas, Texas.
But it was asked to do the impossible.
After beating two of the last unbeaten teams remaining in the tournament to advance to the finals, SPVB B15 Elite faced the last unbeaten, MB Surf Asics 15’s (Westchester, California), in the championship match.
MB Surf entered the match at 11-0 and had lost only one set throughout the tournament.
SPVB had no answer for the Manhattan Beach Surf Volleyball Club’s top 15s team, falling 25-13, 25-11.
SPVB finished the tournament at 9-3 and in second place.
However, just getting to the championship was a test of SPVB B15 Elite’s mettle. In the semifinals, the boys from Aurora faced Bay to Bay 15-1 (California), which carried a gaudy 9-0 record into the match having dropped only three sets during the tournament.
Game 1 was tied at 16-16 when SPVB B15 Elite’s 6-foot-3 opposite Gavin Swartz (Glenbard West) capped a 3-0 run with a blast off the block to pressure the Californians. A dump by 6-4 setter Trevor Powell (Glenbard West) and another kill by Swartz closed out the set.
Bay to Bay jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 2, but the lead was short-lived. A Powell kill following a great dig by libero Paul Wyszynski (Glenbrook North) tied the set at 4-4. There were five more ties before SPVB grabbed a 12-9 lead with a 3-0 run.
Bay to Bay took its final lead at 18-17. But a kill and an ace by Metea Valley’s Chad Luckinbill, a kill by Swartz and another Luckinbill ace were part of a 7-0 run that made a kill by 6-2 outside William Uhlir (Lyons) at match point mere formality.
In the 15 Open quarterfinals, SPVB 15 Elite fought off two set points in the first set and used an 8-0 run midway through the second to take out previously unbeaten SAS 15 Boys (Spike and Serve, Hawaii), 26-24, 25-18.
Three kills by Uhlir staked SPVB 15 Elite to an early 11-4 lead in the first set. The Aurora-based club still led 20-17 on a spectacular one-handed dig that fell in for a kill by Luckinbill and blast by 6-1 middle hitter Esteban Daval (Oswego East).
But SAS, which was 8-0 entering the match, answered with a 7-2 run to earn its first set point at 24-22.
Uhlir’s kill off the block got SPVB within 24-23, and an SAS hitting error knotted the set at 24-24. A dump by Powell gave SPVB its first set point at 25-24, and Uhlir closed out the set with his seventh kill of the game.
The second set was tied eight times, the final time at 13-13. However, two kills by Uhlir, a block by Daval, a pair of stuffs from Powell and an ace by Swartz then ignited an 8-0 run capped by another kill by Uhlir (11 kills).
SAS never got closer than 22-18. A pair of kills by Powell and an SAS net violation sent SPVB 15 Elite on to the semifinals.
Other members of the SPVB B15 Elite team are: 6-3 middle hitter Andrej Moller (Waubonsie Valley), 5-8 setter Bryce Wrobel (Plainfield North), and 5-9 defensive specialist Kenny Gibson (Glenbard West).
In the 17 Open division, previously unbeaten Future 17 Elite lost to Team Rockstar 17-1, 21-25, 25-20, 15-11, in its challenge match Saturday to fall out of title contention.
Adversity G16 Adidas, eliminated from championship contention following a 25-18, 25-23 loss to Skyline 16 Royal (Texas) in the challenge round, saw its tournament run end early Saturday in the 16 Open Silver A bracket semifinals with a 25-23, 25-16 loss to AVC CLE Rox 16N Jeff (Ohio).
“We were the only team 16s team from the state to earn an Open bid, so it was an honor to be able to be there and compete against some of the best, if not the best teams in the country,” said Adversity head coach Melissa Masterson.
In the 16 USA division, 1st Alliance 16 Black defeated H. Skyline 16 Black (Texas), 25-18, 23-25, 15-10, and Elevation 16 Kanelos (Ohio), 25-10, 25-21, to win the Silver B bracket.
In the 16 National division, Michio Chicago 16 National’s season ended early Saturday with a 25-17, 25-17 loss to Ka Uloka Black 16-1 (Hawaii) in a Bronze B bracket semifinal.
Friday, July 5
Michio Chicago 17 National earned a bid to the 2019 USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in the 17 National division this week in Indianapolis thanks to its strong finish in the Windy City Power League.
But USAV often awards at-large bids to teams it feels are deserving, so Michio Chicago 17 National was bumped up to the Open division and seeded 28th in the 36-team field.
This week, Michio Chicago 17 National proved it deserved to be ranked among the country’s best, finishing third in the 17 Open division.
“I’m very proud and so excited for the girls and (head) coach Bob (Heersema),” said Michio Chicago club director Diane Mikulskis. “The 17 Open division is the toughest division in the tournament. The girls peaked at the perfect time this year.”
Despite a 3-4 record after the first two days of pool play, Michio Chicago 17 National advanced to the Gold bracket challenge round Wednesday where it defeated Six Pack 17 (Iowa), 25-18, 25-22.
Michio then defeated Miz LB 17 Rockstar (Long Beach, California), 23-25, 27-25, 15-9, in the Gold quarterfinals early Thursday morning.
Michio’s national championship bid ended in the 17 Open semifinals at the hands of Mintonette Sports-m.71 (Ohio), 25-19, 25-16.
Michio Chicago 17 National did not have to look far for inspiration during its improbable tournament run. Heidi Jedry, the mother of Michio Chicago 17 National outside hitter Avery Jedry from Marist, attended the tournament despite her ongoing battle with breast cancer.
“We honored all of our Michio moms this year who have battled breast cancer with our teams wearing pink,” Mikulskis said. “This was a very emotional week for the parents and our players. It was truly special and the epitome of the family atmosphere that Michio represents.”
Michio Chicago 17 National team members include: 5-foot-10 outside hitter Maddie Arundel, 6-2 rightside/outside hitter Camryn Hannah and 5-7 libero/defensive specialist Mairead Boyle from Marist, and 5-10 setter Amy Schwem from Lemont.
Also, 5-9 outside hitter Brianna Haggerty from Andrew; 6-0 middle hitter Miara Bolden from Homewood Flossmoor; 6-2 rightside hitter Gemma Tipping from Whitney Young; and 5-10 setter Aleksa Curta from Richards.
Elsewhere on the girls’ side, Adversity G16 Adidas (5-2) fought its way to the challenge round early Thursday by defeating OT 16 C. Jason (Florida), 25-15, 26-24, and Rockwood Thunder 16 Elite, 26-24, 24-26, 17-15.
But Adversity was bumped down to the Silver bracket following a 25-18, 25-23 loss to Skyline 16 Royal (Texas) in the challenge round.
Meanwhile, in the 16 USA division, 1st Alliance 16 Black extended its unbeaten streak to seven by winning its second-round pool over MAVS KC 16-2 (Kansas), 26-24, 25-17, and Club One AZ 16 Platinum (Arizona), 25-22, 23-25, 15-13.
But 1st Alliance 16 Black fell to SF Elite 16 Saga (California), 25-22, 25-21, in the challenge round to drop into the Silver bracket.
Silver is special, too.
Adversity B16 Adidas defeated Legacy Boys 16 Elite (California), 25-21, 25-23, and EXCEL 16 NT Red (Texas), 25-21, 25-14, Thursday to win the Silver bracket of the 16 USA division at the 2019 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships in Dallas, Texas.
Adversity fell behind 6-1 early in the first set, but battled back to tie the set at 19-19 before an EXCEL hitting error and back-to-back blocks by middle hitter Ethan Holub gave the Vernon Hills’ crew a 22-19 lead. Holub’s kill at 22-20 gave Adversity al the breathing room it would need.
The second set was a no-brainer for Adversity, while scored the first 9 points of the game. Although EXCEL closed to within 9-4, an ace by Thomas Tustison and a kill by Holub sparked a 5-0 run that all but put the set away.
Also turning in stellar performances for Adversity were setter Sonomdorj Tsogtbaatar, middle hitter Justin Kutsor and libero Jeffrey Altmark.
Pipeline 16 Nike, which defeated Adversity in a third round pool, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10, on Thursday to advance to the 16 USA Gold bracket, fell in the championship quarterfinals to Seaside 16 Black (California), 25-19, 25-23.
Elsewhere, SPVB B15 Elite (6-2) punched its ticket to the 16 Open championship quarterfinals by defeating OCVC 16 Red (California) 25-21, 25-20, in the challenge round.
Earlier, SPVB split its third-round pool matches, defeating Pinnacle 15s (California), 25-15, 27-25, and losing to TORRI 15-1 (Puerto Rico), 25-19, 25-22, but was awarded second place over Pinnacle with a better set record (2-2) when all three teams tied with a match win apiece.
SPVB B15 Elite is scheduled to play unbeaten SAS Boys 15s (Hawaii) in the Gold quarterfinals at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.
In the 16 Open division, SPVB B16 Elite’s tournament run ended in the Silver bracket quarterfinals where the boys from Aurora fell to WAVE 16 Jed (California), 25-13, 18-25, 15-7.
Thursday, July 4
After winning its second-round pool on a tiebreaker, Illinois’ last hope in the 16 Open division at the ISA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships, SPVB B16 Elite, fell a few points shy of reaching the Gold bracket.
Thursday in Dallas, SPVB B16 Elite split its second round pool matches, losing to Niagara Frontier 16 Gold (New York), 25-22, 22-25, 15-9, then bouncing back to beat Bay to Bay 16-1 (California), which had earlier beaten Niagara Frontier in three sets.
Since all three tams had identical 1-1 record in the three-team pool and each winner had won in three sets, the next tiebreaker, points, broke the tie. SPVB 16 Elite scored more points its matches than Bay To Bay or Niagara, and was declared the pool winner.
But the euphoria did not last long. SPVB 16 Elite lost its challenge match to get into the Gold bracket to MVVC 16 Red (Mountain View, California), 16-25, 25-20, 15-12.
“It was a mix of things,” said SPVB B16 Elite coach Seth Salmon. “We had a good scouting report on them and played really well in the first set. But we had a couple of service errors in the second set, and when it got to 20-20, we couldn’t close because of it.
“Mountain View is a good team,” he added. “It was back-and-forth in the third set, but right before the break they had a lot of momentum and intensity, and that’s difficult to overcome when you’re chasing.”
Six-foot-6 outside hitter Kyle Teune from Timothy Christian led SPVB with 17 kills while hitting .436, and 6-foot libero Nolan Hart (Glenbard West) passed a 2.3.
SPVB B16 Elite will play for the Silver bracket title beginning at 9:00 am. Friday against WAVE 16 Jed (California).
Serve City 16 National (3-5) and Future 16 Elite (4-5) will play for the Bronze title.
In the 15 Open, SPVB B15 Elite wrapped up the first round of pool play Thursday by going 4-1 and will continue to play for a berth in the Gold bracket beginning at 8:00 a.m. Friday against Pinnacle 16’s (California).
SPVB B15 Elite won its first four pool matches against SCVC 15 Quicksilver (California), MVC 15 Will (Wisconsin), AZ Fear 15 JH (Arizona) and Pacific Rim 15-1 (California) before dropping its finale to MB Surf Asics 15’s (California), 25-23, 25-20.
In the 16 Open division, Adversity G16 Adidas dropped its final two matches in the first round of pool play Thursday at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships, in Indianapolis, Indiana, but still finished second in its pool to keep its hopes of a national championship alive.
Adversity G16 Adidas (3-2) defeated Arizona Storm 16 Thunder (Arizona) early Thursday before falling to A5 Mizuno 16-Gabe (Georgia), 25-23, 25-22, and SG ELITE 16 RoShambo (California), 25-16, 25-23.
A5 Mizuno Gabe, one of only four teams still unbeaten in the tournament, is coming off a second-place finish at AAUs where it lost in the 16 Open championship match to Sports Performance’s 16 Elite team.
In the 16 USA division, 1st Alliance 16 Black has stormed to a 5-0 start, dropping only one set while beating MiElite 16 Elite West (Michigan), AP 16 Adidas (Austin, Texas), 360 16 Kaos Black (Texas), Slainte Black 16-1 (California) and Miami Elite 16 Julie (Florida).
In the 17 National division, 1st Alliance 17 Black was one of only three teams in the field sitting at 7-0. After going 3-0 Tuesday and 2-0 Wednesday, 1st Alliance downed Athena 17 Gold (Oregon), 25-19, 25-21, and Rockwood Thunder 17 Navy (Missouri), 16-25, 30-28, 15-12, Thursday.
But 1st Alliance lost its Gold challenge match to OT 17 C. Dexter (Florida) late Thursday, 25-9, 20-25, 15-8, and will play for the Silver title.
In the 17 USA division, Cyclones 17 Black Adidas, which was still in the hunt for a Gold bracket berth despite a 2-3 start, dropped both of its matches Thursday. Cyclones lost to FORZA1 17 UA (California), 25-16, 33-31, and Gulfside 17U Navy (Florida), 25-18, 25-14.
Wednesday, July 3
There’s an old adage in volleyball that says, “It all starts with a service error.”
In the case of Sports Performance 18 Elite during its 18 Open division Gold quarterfinal match Wednesday against 949 B18 Black (California) at the USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships in Dallas, Texas, it all ended with service errors.
949 B18 Black took advantage of a flurry of service errors by SPVB 18 Elite to knock the Aurora-based club out of championship contention, 25-20, 25-22.
In Game 1, SPVB 18 Elite fought back from a 17-14 deficit to tie at 17-17 on a kill by Lake Forest’s 6-foot-5 outside hitter Kevin Lamp. But SPVB 18 Elite turned the ball over on a service error to spark a 3-0 run by the Californians.
A tip kill by 6-7 outside hitter Benett Schreiner from Wheaton North got SPVB within 20-18, but another service error restored 949’s 3-point lead. SPVB also committed a service error down 22-19, and Schreiner’s kill at 24-19 only delayed the inevitable.
SPVB’s service woes were even more damaging in the second set. Down 16-13, a pair of kills by Neuqua Valley’s 6-8 setter Kevin Kauling allowed SPVB to pull even at 17-17, and a Schreiner kill knotted the set at 18-18.
However, both points were followed by SPVB service errors.
SPVB did manage to pull even one final time at 22 on a kill by Lamp, but 949 closed out the set on a 3-0 run, including a block at match point. SPVB, Illinois’ final entry in the 18 Open Gold bracket, finished the tournament at 7-2 and tied for fifth place.
In the 18 USA division, Sports Performance advanced two teams to the Gold bracket semifinals – SPVB 18 Lenny, which defeated OCVC 18 Red (California), 20-25, 25-19, 15-10, in its quarterfinal, and SPVB 18 Alpha, which defeated LVC 18 Black (New York), 25-20, 25-21.
However, only one advanced to the championship match … and it wasn’t Lenny.
After dropping the first set against SAS Boys 18s (Hawaii), 6-9 middle hitter Jeremy Cardenas (Neuqua Valley), 6-4 outside hitter Dorian Fiorenza (Plainfield North) and 6-5 setter Sean Califf (Oak Park) rallied Lenny in the second.
In Game 3, Fiorenza, Cardenas and 6-5 middle hitter Jacob Stark (St. Charles East) staked Lenny to a 12-8 lead. But Lenny was unable to close out the set and fell out of title contention, losing to SAS, 25-20, 20-25, 15-13.
That left SPVB 18 Alpha to carry the Sports Performance banner into the 18 USA division championship match, and Alpha was the omega for SG Elite 18 Elite (California) in their semifinal match, winning 25-18, 17-25, 15-8.
The finals pitted SPVB 18 Alpha, which went 6-3 and finished in 21st place in the USA division at the Winter Volleyball Championships back in January, against SAS (Spike and Serve), which played in the Open division at McCormick Place and finished 2-5 and in 23rd place.
SPVB 18 Alpha dropped the first set against SAS, 25-17, but after falling behind 14-8 in the second, fought back with a 10-3 run to take an 18-17 lead on a kill by Bolingbrook’s 5-11 outside hitter Aarion Watt.
The run was fueled by an ace from Glenbard West’s 6-5 setter Henry Curtis, a kill from 6-2 middle blocker Josh Schopp from Plano, and three kills by Watt, including a putback of an overpass that gave SPVB it last lead of the match.
It was all SAS from there, as the boys from Hawaii, who overcame a 12-8 deficit in the third set against SPVB 18 Lenny in the semifinals, closed on an 8-2 run to win, 25-17, 25-20.
The third Illinois team to reach the 18 USA quarterfinals, Adversity B18 Adidas Purple, was paired against SG Elite 18 Elite in the quarterfinals.
Adversity won a lengthy first set that was tied six times – at 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 – before a serve at match point by Andrew Keevins (Stevenson) dribbled off the tape for an ace.
Adversity never trailed in extra time, getting kills by Lake Forest middle hitter Brennan Marzella, Lake Zurich outside hitter Lukas Pytlak and Wheeling’s 6-3 outside hitter Jared Moser. Marzella’s block at 30-30 gave Adversity match point.
SG Elite came back to take the second set, and led 10-8 in the third before kills by Wheeling’s 6-5 middle hitter Jan Baranowski and Lakes’ 6-5 rightside hitter Tyler Donovan pulled Adversity even.
But two late hitting errors proved fatal in Adversity’s 30-32, 25-18, 15-11 loss.
Ironically, Adversity Purple, which could not advance to the semifinals, was the only team to beat the eventual USA division champions, SAS, in the tournament, handing the Hawaiians a 25-18, 23-25, 15-13 loss in pool play Tuesday.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Ultimate B18 Gold battled its way to the 18 Open Silver bracket finals before falling to Legacy Boys 18 Elite, 25-20, 25-20. Ultimate, which won the 18 Open title at the Winter Volleyball Championships in January, finished 7-4 in the tournament.
After two days of opening pool play, Cyclones 17 Black Adidas advanced to the gold half of the 17 USA division on Thursday at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“It wasn’t easy as shown by our 2-3 pool record, but we have survived and moved on,” said head coach Franky Martinez. “The girls are playing with grit, knowing their ‘A’ game isn’t on. Tomorrow (July 4) will be the true test of their effort. They need a good day.”
Cyclones are playing without regulars outside hitter Ava Riggs (West Aurora) and libero Allie Voris (West Aurora), but defensive specialist Mikaela Beyer (Oswego) has stepped in and is doing a great job, Martinez said.
Outside hitter Grace Franz (Kaneland) has paced Cyclones through its first five matches with 40 kills. Chloey Myers (West Aurora) has added 30 kills, while Oswego’s Amanda Darling has anchored the defense with 55 digs.
In the 16 Open division, Adversity G16 Adidas won its first two matches in opening round pool play handily, defeating Top Select 16 Elite Hans (Florida), 25-14, 25-17, and Metro 16 Travel (Washington, D.C.), 25-20, 25-14.
But in the 17 Open division, Sky High Adidas 17 Black fell to 1-4 and Michio Chicago 17 National checked in a 2-3 after completion of the first round of pool play.
Tuesday, July 2
It was brutal day for the Illinois boys Tuesday as play continued in the 18 Open division of the USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.
At 3-2, Adversity B18 Adidas needed to win one match in its three-team pool to advance to the challenge round and remain in contention for a berth in the championship bracket.
Louisville Fury 18 Smack, which entered the match at 3-3 after being spanked by Balboa Bay 18 Blue, seemed like the perfect foil.
Adversity came out firing on all cylinders, building a 10-3 lead in Game 1 on back-to-back blocks by Carmel graduate and 6-foot-7 middle hitter Michael Scott. Adversity extended to a 22-10 lead on a block by Loyola’s 6-5 outside hitter Jack Howard, and coasted to the finish line.
The second set was a little too close for comfort, however. Louisville took an early 7-5 lead, and was still within 15-14 before a pair of kills by Barrington product Gabe Hartke and another block by Howard (2 kills, 2 blocks, 1 ace) gave Adversity a 19-15 advantage.
Louisville never got closer than 24-22 on an Adversity hitting error.
Hartke led Adversity with 6 kills, Lake Zurich graduate Bartosz Wielgos added 5 kills, 2 blocks and an ace, Stevenson’s 6-7 junior Justin Ross added 5 kills and 3 blocks, and Benedictine University-bound libero Kyle Vasquez from Barrington added 3 aces.
Adversity tried to carry that momentum into its next match against powerful Balboa Bay 18 Blue, taking an early 13-7 lead in Game 1. But the boys from the left coast stormed back to win, 25-20, 25-14.
That sent Adversity into a Gold challenge match against AJV 18 Mizuno Boys (Texas). A kill by Howard gave Adversity a 14-13 lead in the first set and the boys from Vernon Hills extended to a 16-14 lead on a net violation against AJV.
But then the roof fell in. AVJ scored the final 11 points of the first set, then built an 19-11 advantage in the second to send Adversity into the Silver bracket, 25-16, 25-19.
Elsewhere Tuesday, in the “Go figure” department, Ultimate B18 Gold won its early morning pool the hard way.
After dropping a 25-22, 25-22, 15-12 decision to Coast 18 Jake (California) in its opener, Ultimate had to defeat WAVE 18 Darrell (California), which had beaten Coast, 25-21, 25-23, earlier Tuesday, in straight sets to win its pool.
A loss would have knocked Ultimate out of title contention.
After beating WAVE 25-22 in the opening set on the strength of a 9-point service run by Lincoln-Way Central graduate Jack Yurkanin that gave Ultimate a 10-1 lead, the boys from the south side found themselves trailing 20-18 in the second set.
However, Ultimate grabbed a 23-22 advantage on a hitting error by WAVE, then – who else – Illprepvb.com Player of the Year Marty Jepsen of Marist — closed out the match with a kill and an ace.
Lincoln-Way East’s Ike Mahajan provided a big block late in the second set and (Lincoln-Way West’s) Nick Studer added an ace that gave Ultimate a 22-21 lead.
“It was a great job by the boys to bounce back after a tough first match,” said Ultimate head coach Troy Vidovic.
“Our middles, Wil McPhillips (Lincoln-Way East) and Zach Bulthuis (Chicago Christian), really stepped up offensively in the second match, and (Lincoln-Way West’s) Ben Pluskota did a great job stepping in for Louden Moran (Lincoln-Way West), who wasn’t available to go today.”
But Ultimate ran into a buzzsaw in MVVC 18 Red (California) in its challenge match, losing 25-13, 25-17 to join Adversity in the Silver bracket.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Vidovic said. “But we’ve had a great run over the last few years with this group. Hopefully, we can bounce back (Wednesday) and finish on a high note.”
Meanwhile, Uno Boys 18 Elite, which began the tournament at 4-1, dropped a pair of pool matches Tuesday, losing to MVP Academy 18 Fire (Florida), 25-20, 19-25, 17-15, and Pac6 18 Blue (California), 25-19, 25-21, to fall out of title contention.
Likewise, Future 18 Elite, which was 4-1 after the first two days, lost both of its pool matches Tuesday, falling to ECVC Hurricanes 18-1 (Virginia Beach, Virginia), 25-20, 25-20, and 949 B18 Black (California), 25-19, 20-25, 15-13.
That left just SPVB B18 Elite, which lost a tough three-setter to Balboa Bay 18 Blue on Monday. SPVB advanced to the Gold challenge bracket early Tuesday by defeating NCVC Asics 18-1 (California), 25-23, 25-12, and MVVC 18 Red (California), 22-25, 25-21, 15-7.
Unlike Ultimate and Adversity, however, SPVB prevailed in its Gold challenge match, defeating Coast 18 Jake, 25-20, 25-18. SPVB, Illinois’ final remaining title hope in the 18 Open division, will play 949 B18 Black (California) in a Gold bracket quarterfinal at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Elsewhere, SPVB 18 Alpha, SPVB 18 Lenny and Adidas B18 Adidas Purple all went 2-0 in their respective pools Tuesday to advance to the 18 USA division Gold bracket quarterfinals beginning at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Michio Chicago 17 National and Sky High Adidas 17 Black, which earned automatic berths in the 17 National division thanks to their stellar play in the Windy City Power League but were awarded at-large bids to the Open division, got off to horrendous starts Tuesday in Indianapolis.
Sky High-Adidas 17 Black went 0-3, losing to Mintonette Sports-m.71 (Columbus, Ohio), 25-20, 25-14, Premier Nebraska 17 Gold (Nebraska), 25-20, 25-22, and HPSTL 17 Royal (St. Louis, Missouri), 25-23, 25-15
Michio fared slightly better, going 1-2, losing to Union 17-1 Asics (Louisville, Kentucky), 16-25, 25-16, 15-13, beating AVC CLE Rox 17N Meredith (Ohio), 25-20, 25-23, then falling to Miz LB 17 Rockstar (California), 25-27, 25-16, 15-13.
In the 17 American division, Club 1 17 Royal and IL HPSTL 17 Elite opened pool play with two wins in three tries.
Monday, July 1
Play wrapped up Monday in the 15s age division at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In the 15 USA division, Sky High Adidas 15 Black battled its way to the championship match early Monday, rallying in both matches to defeat HJV 15 Elite (Texas), 19-25, 25-21, 16-14, and OT 15 J Rico (Florida), 16-25, 25-16, 15-11.
But there would be no comeback against MadFrog 15’s N Black (Plano, Texas).
MadFrog and its star, 5-foot-10 setter/outside hitter Ana Heath (Wylie, Texas, H.S.), denied Sky High Adidas 15 Black a championship, turning back valiant comebacks in both sets to defeat the girls from the Crystal Lake club, 25-22, 25-23.
“The team played really well against a lot of really tough competitors,” said Sky High coach Jill Rokosik. “They really had to bond together to overcome some really good blocks and really good defense against a variety of opponents.
“We had our ups and downs, but they came together to figure out, and we were outscored by just a few points in each set by a really great opponent in MadFrog,” she added.
MadFrog jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable 17-11 lead in Game 1 on a kill by – who else – Heath. But Sky High refused to go away, answering with a 6-0 run fueled by an ace from 5-11 setter Rian Baker (Fremd) and two blocks by 5-11 middle hitter Claudia Wala (Fremd).
However, MadFrog countered with a 5-0 run, primarily on the backs of two violations, a service error and a hitting error, and Sky High could get no closer than 23-21 on a kill by 5-11 opposite side hitter Valleria Leggett (Marian Central).
After a Heath ace gave MadFrog a 6-5 lead in the second set, Sky High was chasing much of the game until a late 6-1 run that featured three kills by 5-10 outside hitter Rylen Reid (Fremd) gave the Illinois girls a 21-20 lead.
MadFrog eased to a 23-21 advantage on a kill by Heath, but a Reid kill and a net violation by the locals tied the set at 23. However, Sky High was whistled for a net violation of its own on the next point, and MadFrog blocked a Sky High kill attempt at match point.
Reid led Sky High with 12 kills. Leggett added 6 kills and a block, Wala contributed 3 kills and 5 blocks, and Baker distributed 24 assists.
Reid, Baker and 5-4 libero Isabela Segoviano (Fremd) were named to the all-tournament team.
“We just talked about making sure that we do what we can do for each other, and that we play for each other, and that we are going out there and giving our all at all times,” Baker said.
“Our coaches were telling us that we worked so hard for this, and that we can do whatever wee put our minds to in any situation and we just have to do it together,” she added.
The rest of the silver medal winning Sky High team includes: 5-11 outside hitter Amanda Holsen (Stevenson); 5-9 setter/defensive specialist Rachel Kaczorowski (Jacobs); 5-10 outside hitter Mia McGrath (Loyola); 6-0 middle blocker Madelyn Moan (Woodstock); and 6-0 outside hitter McKenna Timmerman (Crystal Lake Central).
In the 15 National division, Epic United 15 Elite ROX can thank Illiana Christian libero Kylie Martin and Kankakee Valley (Indiana) middle hitter Alexis Broyles for its 25-22, 25-19 win over Lions 15 Red in the Gold quarterfinals.
Martin saved her team from what would have been a devastating first-game loss.
After Epic had built a seemingly insurmountable 16-6 lead, Lions roared back to pull even at 18. But Martin stopped the run with a little dump kill from behind the 10-foot line, then served four consecutive points including an ace to give Epic some breathing room.
Lions got within 23-21, but a kill off the block by Epic and a Lions’ hitting error ended the first set.
In the second set, Broyles broke a 16-16 tie with 3 kills as part of a 6-0 run that pushed Lions to the brink of elimination. The Western Springs’ girls did close within 22-18, but could get no closer as Epic advanced to the Gold semifinals.
That’s where the party ended for Epic United, which was eliminated from gold medal contention by FORZA1 15 UA (Ontario, California), 25-13, 18-25, 16-14.
“It was an amazing season from a group of kids who accepted being pushed to improve physically and mentally,” said Epic United 15 Elite ROX coach Brian Zofkie. “They demonstrated great toughness and character. I’m looking forward to seeing this group continue improving and succeeding.”
In the 15 Open division, Lions 15-1’s remarkable run, which included a 31-29, 25-15 victory over previously unbeaten Premier Nebraska 15 Gold in Sunday’s challenge round, ended with a heartbreaking 26-24, 28-26 loss to Houston Skyline 15 Royal in the Gold bracket quarterfinals.
Michio Chicago 15 National, relegated to the Bronze bracket Sunday after a controversial 21-25, 25-11, 15-13 loss to MadFrog 15’s N Green (Plano, Texas), defeated CVC 15 Black (Ohio), 25-23, 25-18, and Rockwood Thunder 15 Elite, 25-22, 24-26, 15-9, to win the Bronze.
Ultimate B18 Gold head coach Troy Vidovic was probably grateful he was at home tending to his wife and newborn son rather than pacing the court in Dallas, Texas, Monday morning while watching his team take on Vegas United B18 Navy in both teams’ pool play finale.
Vegas United (1-4), behind 6-foot-8 Pepperdine recruit and opposite side hitter Scott Solan, routed No. 2 overall seed Ultimate 25-10 in Game 1, then built an 8-4 lead in the third set, eventually earning match points at 14-13 and 15-14.
But Ultimate fought off both match points, the second on a kill by Marist’s Marty Jepsen, before squeezing out a 10-25, 25-18, 18-16 win on another Jepsen kill and a Vegas United hitting error.
“We really didn’t have our best stuff today,” said Ultimate assistant coach Josh Scaletta. “But the boys battled to the end and found a way to win. We took care of business, and we are in a good spot to make some noise the next few days.”
Lincoln-Way Central graduate Jack Yurkanin was huge during Ultimate’s rally in the third set. He had a pair of kills to get Ultimate within 12-10 and 13-11, then ripped an ace to cut the deficit to 13-12.
“Marty Jepsen and Jack Yurkanin made some outstanding plays down the stretch, and (Lincoln-Way East graduate) Ike Mahajan provided great service pressure and an ace in a crucial moment,” Scaletta said.
Yurkanin and Jepsen each had had 4 kills in the final set, and (Lincoln-Way East graduate) libero Danny Pacini passed a 2.7 to help Ultimate improve to 4-1.
Elsewhere in the 18 Open division, Future 18 Elite won its pool at 4-1 with wins over Coast 18 Jake (California) and MVC 18 Brad (Wisconsin) on Monday, while Uno Boys 18 Elite also won its pool at 4-1 despite dropping a 19-25, 25-22, 15-9 decision to SB Coast 18 in its finale.
SPVB 18 Elite also checked in at 4-1, defeating MVP Academy 18 Fire (Florida), 25-18, 25-13, and Yorktowne 18 Blue (Pennsylvania), 25-22, 24-26, 15-11, while Adversity B18 Adidas defeated Vanguard 18 Gold Webb, 21-25, 25-23, 16-14, to improve to 3-2.
Pipeline 18 Elite went 0-2 Monday and fell to 1-4 in the tournament.
In the 18 USA division, No. 4 overall seed SPVB 18 Lenny fell to 5-1 after dropping its final match Monday to Adversity 18 Adidas Purple, 25-23, 19-25, 15-13. The victory allowed Adversity to improve to 4-2 after two rounds of pool play.
D1 Elite 18 Green and SPVB B18 Alpha stand at 3-3 after the first two rounds, while Ultimate B17 Blue sits at 2-4.
In the 18 Club division, Club 1 B18 Skronkstrong is 5-1 after two rounds of pool play, losing only to Tool City-Hering (Pennsylvania), 25-20, 18-25, 15-8, on Monday, while Uno Boys 18 National sits at 4-2.
Sunday, June 30
It was a mostly successful day for the local entries as play continued Sunday in the 15s division at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In the 15 Open division, Lions 15-1 split its final pool play matches early Sunday, defeating CVC 15 Black (Cleveland, Ohio), 25-22, 25-19, before losing to OT 15 O. Melito (Florida), 25-15, 20-25, 15-8.
Then, with its tournament future on the line, Lions defeated previously unbeaten Premier Nebraska 15 Gold, 31-29, 25-15, in the challenge round to improve to 5-3 and advance to the Gold bracket quarterfinals on Monday.
“The girls won an awesome challenge match against Nebraska Premier,” said Lions 15-1 coach Laura Baetzel. “(Lyons setter) Katie Hurta and (Nazareth libero) Gillian Grimes did a great job being solid and leading the team offensively and defensively.
“It was truly a team effort,” the coach added. “Everyone played a part in the win.”
Lions 15-1 will face Houston Skyline 15 Royal (Texas) in a Gold bracket quarterfinal Monday at 8:00 a.m.
“The team needs to stay focused and have fun,” Baetzel said. “When they are enjoying each other and playing for each other, they are playing well.
“They are pumped for tomorrow and ready to compete,” she added.
Also in the 15 Open division, Michio Chicago 15 National lost a heartbreaker in its opener Sunday against MadFrog 15’s N Green (Plano, Texas), 21-25, 25-11, 15-13. MadFrog began the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, but was re-seeded at No. 24 after dropping two of its first five matches.
That was little consolation to Michio, which dug itself a hole in Game 2 with early mistakes then had a kill taken away from 5-11 outside hitter Kamryn Chaney on a net violation that gave MadFrog the third set and match.
Things didn’t get any better for Michio Chicago 15 National in its second match Sunday as Arizona Storm 15 Thunder (Arizona) handed the south siders’ a 25-23, 25-13 setback to drop Michio to 3-4.
Michio did win its challenge match late Sunday over SAS Girls 15s (Hawaii), 25-15, 25-22, to advance to the Bronze bracket.
In the 15 USA division, Sky High Adidas 15 Black defeated a pair of teams from Texas – Houston Juniors 15 Premier, 25-21, 25-19, and Drive Nation 15 Red (Dallas), 25-20, 30-28 – to move on to the challenge round against another team from the Lone Star state, TIV 15 Asics Blue (Grand Prairie).
Sky High Adidas 15 Black then defeated TIV (Texas Image) 15 Asics Blue, 25-15, 22-25, 15-10, to improve to 7-1 in the tournament and advance to Monday’s Gold bracket against yet another team from Texas, Houston Juniors 15 Elite.
In the 15 National division, Epic United 15 Elite extended its tournament win streak to six Sunday afternoon by defeating ROX AZ EVJ 15N1 (Tempe, Arizona), 25-13, 25-20.
But the girls from Hammond, Indiana, and south suburban Illinois had a rougher go of it in their second match Sunday with Mintonette Sports – m.51 (Columbus, Ohio).
Mintonette took the opening set 25-16, handing Epic its first loss in the tournament. But Epic countered with a strong second set, then after a disputed line call got Mintonette within 9-7 in the third, Epic put the match away with an 6-0 closing run, 16-25, 25-20, 15-7.
An ace by libero Kylie Martin (Illiana Christian) and back-to-back kills by middle hitter Alexis Broyles (Kankakee Valley H.S., Indiana) were deciding factors in the run.
Epic United 15 Elite ROX (8-0) then completed a productive Sunday by defeating FC Elite 15 Navy (Appleton. Wisconsin) in its challenge match, 25-22, 25-20, to move on to the Gold bracket Monday.
“We are off to a great start,” said Epic United 15 Elite ROX coach Brian Zofkie, the girls’ varsity coach at Shepard. “We are playing with great energy and solid defense. We’re looking forward to hopefully continuing our strong play.
“Rachel Rossman (5-7 setter from Crown Point, Indiana), Kendall Schara (5-9 outside hitter from Crown Point) and Kylie have led the way for us so far with great contributions from the rest of the team,” he added.
Epic’s opponent in the Gold quarterfinals will be Lions 15 Red (8-0), which defeated EC Power 15 Mystic (Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania), 25-12, 25-10, in its challenge match Sunday.
The USAV Boys Junior National Championships got underway Sunday at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.
In the 18 Open division, SPVB 18 Elite (2-1) will look back and consider what might have been in its 30-28, 20-25, 15-8 loss to overall No. 1 seed Balboa Bay 18 Blue (California) in both teams’ finale Sunday.
The Aurora boys grabbed a 23-21 lead in Game 1 on a kill by Glenbard West’s Ryan Swartz and earned two sets points at 25-24 and 26-25. A SPVB hitting error kept Balboa Bay alive at 25-25, but a Rico Wardlow (Bolingbrook) smash earned SPVB its second set point.
But SPVB could not put away Balboa, which eventually earned the set on its fourth set point.
An ace by Neuqua Valley’s Kevin Kauling closed out the second set for SPVB, but Balboa opened the third on a 4-0 run and the boys from the western suburbs never recovered, leaving them at 2-1 in the pool.
That old bugaboo – hitting errors – almost came back to haunt SPVB 18 Elite in its second-round match, a 25-20, 21-25, 15-8 victory over Ku’Ikahi 18R RoShamBo (Honolulu, Hawaii).
After winning the first set on the strength of serving by Wardlow and Kauling, SPVB miscues allowed the boys from the middle Pacific to overcome a 7-3 deficit in Game 2 and win the second set.
But a pair of kills by Swartz broke a 5-5 deadlock in Game 3, and a pair of aces by Wheaton North’s Bennett Schreiner extended SPVB’s lead to 10-6. Kills by Swartz and Lake Forest’s Kevin Lamp and two Hawaii hitting errors closed out the match.
Also checking in at 2-1 in the 18 Open division was No. 2 overall seed Ultimate B18 Gold.
After winning its opener, Ultimate B18 Gold broke away from a tight second set in its second match Sunday against Orlando Gold 18 Black (Florida) to post a 25-19, 25-19 victory. Chris Dargan’s kill of an Orlando overpass at 20-18 and Jack Yurkanin’s blast off the block at match point gave Ultimate the win.
But the celebration was short-lived. Ultimate B18 Gold dropped its third and final match of the day to MB Surf Asics (Manhattan Beach, California), 26-24, 14-25, 15-13, and will have to rebound against Louisville Fury 18 Smack and Vegas United B18 Navy when pool play resumes Monday.
Future 18 Elite lived on the edge in its opener Sunday against Bay-to-Bay 18-1 (California). The Californians took advantage of two Future hitting errors and a service error to take Game 2, then overcame a 6-2 deficit in Game 3 to close within 7-6.
Future countered with 5 unanswered points to open a 12-6 lead in the third set, but Bay-to-Bay got within 13-11 before a service error and a hitting error on match point allowed Future to close out the match, 25-14, 23-25, 15-11.
Future got a strong serving performance by Lyons’ 6-5 outside hitter RaShawn Bonner and steady backrow play from Benet libero Sean Becker.
Future finished the day at 2-1 in its pool, falling to Roch PaceBootlegger 18, 21-25, 25-16, 15-12.
Elsewhere in the 18 Open division, Uno B18 Elite took command of its pool with three victories Sunday, defeating HPSTL B18 Royal, 25-21, 20-25, 16-14, MVC 18-Phil (Wisconsin), 29-27, 27-25, and NCVC Asics 18-1 (California), 25-20, 25-17.
Adversity 18 Adidas sits at 2-1 after losing its final to WAVE 18 Darrell (California), 25-19, 18-25, 18-16, while Pipeline 18 Nike salvaged a win in its final match of the day, defeating Warren Sixpack, 18-1, 26-24, 25-21, to improve to 1-2.
In the 18 USA division, No. 4 overall seed SPVB 18 Lenny won its pool by defeating 303VBA 18 Mizuno, 27-25, 22-25, 15-6, Coastal B18 N-1 (Florida), 25-17, 25-19, and Evolution 18-1 (California), 25-10, 25-11.
Adversity B18 Adidas Purple and D1 Elite 18 Green both went 2-1 Sunday, while SPVB B18 Alpha and Ultimate B17 Blue sit at 1-2.
Saturday, June 29
Michio Chicago 15 National and Lions 15-1 took different paths to get there, but both teams finished 3-2 in their respective 15 Open pools Saturday at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
No. 18 overall seed Michio Chicago bounced back from a 1-2 start on Friday to win both of its matches Saturday, although the girls from the south side did not give their fans much to cheer about in the opening sets of each match.
Michio dropped the first set 25-10 in its opener Saturday morning against OT 15 O. Semei (Florida), but found its footing in Games 2 and 3 to win 10-25, 29-27, 15-13. Michio followed the same script in its second match against CVC 15 Black (Ohio) before pulling out a 16-25, 25-15, 15-11 victory.
Six-foot-1 rightside hitter Logan Grevengoed from Chicago Christian put up a wall at the net against CVC, while Marist’s 5-11 middle hitter Mary Clare Brusek served 7 consecutive points, including 2 aces, to put Michio up for good in the third set.
Michio also got contributions from a pair of Munster, Indiana, products as 5-5 libero Sarah Morton was solid in the back row all morning and 6-1 outside hitter Haley Melby put down several impressive kills.
Michio Chicago 15 National moves on to a three-team pool early Sunday that features overall No. 1 seed MadFrog 15’s N Green from Plano. Texas, which went just 3-2 in its first-round pool, although one of those wins was a 25-27, 25-16, 15-7 decision against Lions 15-1.
Meanwhile, No. 14 overall seed Lions 15-1, which was 2-1 after Friday including the loss to MadFrog, split a pair of matches Saturday but still managed to finish in a three-way tie at 3-2 in its pool. However, because of tiebreakers, Lions fell to third place.
Lions 15-1 defeated Tribe 15 Elite Dean (Florida), 25-21, 23-25, 15-13, in its opener Saturday, but dropped a 18-25, 25-23, 15-8 decision to No. 24 seed TAV Houston 15 Black (Texas), one of the teams that knocked off MadFrog Friday, in its nightcap.
Lions 15-1, led by setter/outside hitter Katie Hurta (Lyons) and outside hitter Paige Pickering (Montini), will seek to stay alive in Gold bracket contention Sunday when its faces CVC 15 Black (Ohio), at 11:00 a.m.
In the 15 USA division, No. 17 overall seed Sky High Adidas 15 Black defeated Academy 15 Gold (California), 25-20, 25-18, in its opening match Saturday to wrap up first place in its pool, rendering its 25-21, 15-25, 15-10 loss to Invasion 15 Black (Hawaii) meaningless.
Sky High Adidas 15 Black’s three-team pool Sunday features No. 22 seed HJV 15 Premier (Houston, Texas), which went 2-3 in its pool over the first two days of play, and No. 12 seed Drive Nation 15 Red (Dallas, Texas), which was 4-1 in pool play.
The Crystal Lake crew, which features four players from (Palatine) Fremd – 5-11 setter Rian Baker, 5-10 outside hitter Rylen Reid, 5-4 defensive specialist Isabela Segoviano and 5-11 middle hitter Claudia Wala – opens with HJV 15 Premier Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
In the 15 National division, Lions 15 Red and Epic United 15 Elite ROX were seeking to improve upon their 3-0 starts as pool play resumed Saturday.
No. 10 seed Lions 15 Red defeated Beach Elite 15B Adidas (Virginia Beach, Virginia), 25-13, 25-19, AP (Austin Performance) 15 Adidas (Texas), 25-23, 25-17, and Tx Performance 15s (El Paso, Texas), 25-20, 25-11, on Friday.
Leading the way for Lions 15 Red Friday were outside hitter Juliana Warfield, setter Katie Linnig, libero Reeghan Boyer and middle hitter Maddie Kasallis.
“Katie’s tempo to Jules makes her an unstoppable force on the outside,” said Lions 15 Red assistant coach Kaylee Kaminsky. “Reeghan controls the back while Maddie provides a solid first line of defense with her strong block.
“To continue to be successful, we have to be efficient and energetic,” she added. “If we continue to pass well to give our setters all options, we should be successful.”
Lions 15 Red won twice more Saturday, beating Hi Intensity Hilo 15’s, 25-11, 25-7, and MDJRS 15 Elite Black, 25-11, 25-12, to join Epic United 15 Elite ROX as two of only five teams that are 5-0 after two rounds of play in the 15 National division.
At the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, the 15s age division got underway Friday with No. 17 seed Sky High Adidas 15 Black winning its first three matches in the USA division.
Sky High defeated 305 VBC 15 National (Florida), 25-21, 25-12, Areté 15 Navy Telos (Texas), 25-22, 25-23, and W Revolution 15 Premier (Texas), 25-22, 25-20.
“We need to continue to serve aggressively, push the ball faster for our offense to operate efficiently, continue with high energy and high communication,” said Sky High Adidas 15 black coach Jill Rokosik.
“Even though we started off well, I do think there’s still room for improvement and for us to play the kind of game we know we can play,” she added.
Also going unbeaten Friday were Epic United 15 Elite ROX and Lions 15 Red in the 15 National division. Lions 15-1 went 2-1 in the 15 Open division and Sky High Adidas 15 Red went 2-1 in the 15 American division.