After dominating a Northern California team in its first match at the 2011 boys’ Junior Nationals in Minneapolis, Balboa Bay 18 Quiksilver ran into a little trouble. That trouble came in the form of MVP 18 Red out of Maryland, which downed Balboa Bay in the first set.
But trouble did not last long. In fact, there are probably still smoke clouds in the Minneapolis Convention Center from Balboa Bay leaving the remainder of its opponents in the dust en route to winning the 18 Open title.
Starting with those two wins in sets 2 and 3 against MVP, Balboa Bay won its final 20 sets by an average margin of nine points, and won 10 of its final 20 sets by 10 or more points.
“They (MVP) pushed us to the limit in three,” Balboa Bay coach John Hawks said. “We kind of regrouped and asked ourselves, ‘What are we doing here?’ We went back to basics. It’s scary how good we got.”
Balboa Bay libero Michael Brinkley, who is headed to UC Irvine, noted the close match with MVP got everybody’s attention on the team.
“It was like a wakeup call,” said Brinkley. “It showed us that we have one chance and one opportunity to do something like that. You have to go out and play at 100 percent every time in order to win a game or a win a gold medal.”
And once Balboa Bay righted the ship, it showcased one of the deepest teams around. Its starting lineup of Taylor Hammond (S, Penn State), Zach La Cavera (OH, UC Irvine), John Henry (MB, Long Beach State), Spencer Haly (MB, Stanford), Cody Caldwell (OH, Loyola-Chicago) and Rusty Sary (OH, Orange Coast College) reads like a who’s who of top college recruits.
“We could spread the offense throughout the floor,” said Caldwell, the 2011 Volleyball Boys’ High School Player of the Year. “We had no weaknesses. We had more physical talent than any other team had and that’s hard to stop.”
The core group of this team won Junior National gold medals in the 15s, 16s and now 18s division, and Balboa Bay won four major tournaments this season.
“We had a lot of great players on this team and we had great chemistry,” Brinkley said. “We didn’t finish how we wanted to last year. We worked really hard this year so we could win a gold medal.”
Originally published in September/October 2011