Wildcats Jrs. 18 Black defeated HPSTL 18 Royal out of St. Louis, Missouri, in the championship match Sunday to win the 18 USA division at the 2019 Nike Mideast Qualifier at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The bid was re-allocated since Wildcat Jrs. 18 Black had already qualified for the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Dallas Texas, April 26-28, in the 18 USA division, earning a bid at the Winter Volleyball Championships at McCormick Place in January.
The crew from the North Shore battled its way through a crowded field of 75 teams last weekend to win the division, bouncing back from a second-day loss to VC United 18 Elite to defeat HPSTL 18 Royal, 25-20, 25-27, 15-11, in the championship match.
“Winning the 18 USA Division at MEQ’s was an amazing experience,” said coach and Wildcat Jrs. program director Cassandra Rose. “Our team played solid, focused volleyball throughout the weekend and desired to come out on top. We could not be more proud of their success.
“It’s a great way to head into nationals in Dallas,” she added.
The members of Wildcat Jrs. 18 Black are 5-foot-9 setter Katherine Carmichael from Maine South, Erin Eddy from Evanston, 6-3 middle hitter Elizabeth Ford and 5-11 setter Anne Martinson from Loyola, and New Trier’s 5-11 outside hitter Madeline McGregor and 6-1 outside hitter Taite Ryan.
Also, 6-2 outside Ireland Hieb from Highland Park, 5-8 libero Emily Naubert from Christian Liberty Academy, 5-11 rightside hitter Logan Steenbergen from Glenbrook South, and 5-11 middle hitter Lindsey Zver from St. Ignatius.
Blue Steel 18’s Edge out of O’Fallon finished third in the 18 USA division, losing to HPSTL 18 Royal 18-25, 25-20, 15-12, in the semifinals to go 7-3, while 1st Alliance 18 Black was fifth, also going 7-3 over the weekend.
The Great Lakes Region will be well-represented at nationals in the 18 USA division by Wildcat Jrs., Epic United 18 Elite ROX and Sky High Adidas 18 Black, the latter two also earning bids at the Winter Volleyball Championships. IL HPSTL 18 Select also qualified earlier this season out of the Music City qualifier.
1st Alliance 17 Black (pictured right) was the top local entry in the 17 USA division, advancing to the semifinals before losing to finish 9-1 and tied for third place. However, by defeating Rockwood Thunder 17 Navy, 25-20, 25-16, in the consolation match, 1st Alliance 17 Black earned the bid to nationals.
1st Alliance 17 Black team members include Journey Barsh of Homewood-Flossmoor, Caitlin Coughlin of Resurrection, Virginia Curtis of Glenbard West, Tamia Henderson of Providence-St. Mel, Kaya Hood of IC Catholic Prep and Bailey Houlihan of Neuqua Valley.
Also, Addison Karmik of Downers Grove South, Jessica Pappas of Lincoln-Way East, Aryanna Ruffin of Waubonsie Valley, Shelby Stefanon of Sandburg, and Amia Owolabi and Alexis Warfield of Mother McAuley. The team is coached by Kate McGuire.
1st Alliance 17 Black has been playing with both purpose and heavy hearts since losing teammate Beth Dunlap of Downers Grove North, who was struck by a car outside her high school on February 19. Dunlap passed away a few days later.
“Beth’s ultimate goal this season was to qualify, and this team was determined to #PlayForBeth this weekend and earn that bid for her,” said 1st Alliance VBC’s Elizabeth Baetzel. “(Rockwood Thunder) was a tough match, but these girls played their hearts out for the win and the bid.”
The only Illinois team other than Wildcat Jrs. 18 Black to advance to the finals in any division at the Mideast Qualifier was Cyclones 18 Black Adidas out of Aurora.
Cyclones 18 Black Adidas, which won the 18/17 Club division at the at the President’s Day Tournament hosted by Sports Performance at the Schaumburg Convention Center, finished second in the 18 American division, losing to Six Pack 18 out of Cedar Falls, Iowa, 25-21, 25-12.
Team members of Cyclones 18 Black Adidas, coached by Brian Zerfas, include Natalie Delacolina, Celina Thacker and Kailee Thacker from Oswego, Sydney Fedderly and Madilynn Mueller from Kaneland, and Cali Gentry from St. Charles East.
Also, Alena Grabavoy from Oswego East, Makayla Morgan from St. Charles North, Jessica Havernick from Yorkville and Lauren Greenwood from West Aurora.
Chicago Elite 18 Elite also did well in the 18 American division, finishing ninth after going 6-2 at the qualifier.
Looking at the top local finishers in the other divisions, Michio Chicago 15 National finished tied for fifth at 5-3, Sky High Adidas 15 Black was 21st at 3-5 and UNO Girls 15 Elite went 2-5 and was 41st in the 15 Open division.
In the 16 American division, Lions 16-1 finished 7-1 and tied for ninth place, while Sky High 15 White was 6-2 and tied for 25th.
Adversity G16 Adidas led the locals in the 16 Open division, going 6-2 and finishing in a tie for fifth place after losing to Milwaukee Sting 16 Gold, 22-25, 25-17, 15-13, in the Gold bracket.
Also in the 16 Open division, Sky High Adidas 16 Black went 7-1 and tied for 13th place and UNO Girls 16 Elite went 3-4 and tied for 15th place.
In the 16 USA division, Prime Time 16 Blue went 5-3 and tied for ninth place.
1st Alliance 17 White was the top local finisher in the 17 American division, going 8-1 and tying for third place, while 1st Alliance 17 Elite (7-2) tied for fifth place and Sky High Adidas 17 White (5-3) shared ninth place.
Sky High Adidas 17 Black, which earned a bid in the 17 National division by winning the Windy City Power League, went 6-2 and tied for ninth place in the 17 Open division with Adversity G17 Adidas, which finished 4-4.
In the 17 USA division, Sky High Adidas 17 Red tied for fifth place after going 4-4 in the qualifier.
In the 18 Open division, 1st Alliance 18 Silver was ninth at 5-3, Sky High Adidas 18 Black was 15th at 3-4 and Michio Chicago 18 National was 17th at 4-3.
Michio Chicago 18 National has already earned a bid to nationals in the 18 National division after finishing second in the Windy City Power League.