Tawa’s HS Dots: Mater Dei’s Golden State win clinches natty; N. Allegheny, Sioux Falls Christian exte...
November 29, 2023
July 6, 2023
Kevin Pratte is the boys varsity coach at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California, where is also a physical education teacher. Pratte, who lives in San Diego, played at the University of Pacific. He was a graduate assistant at Nebraska, an assistant at Pacific, and has coached at the junior college level. He also is a college recruiting coordinator writes for vballrecruiter.com
By Kevin Pratte for VolleyballMag.com
The 2023 AAU Boys’ Junior National Volleyball Championships finished in Orlando on July 4 with a 45-percent increase in teams and another reminder that the sport is among the fastest-growing in the country. In 2022, the AAU nationals had 665 teams. This year? A whopping 963.
The teams that were placed in the Champion Division based on their results from the first three days of the tournament: 630, 949, Academy, Bay to Bay, Balboa Bay, HPSTL, MB Surf, MOD, Mountain View, MVC, Niagara Frontier, Ocean Bay, RVCA, SC Legends, Sports Performance, The St. James, Ultimate, and Vanguard.
MB Surf beat Balboa Bay (25-21, 25-23) to win a field that started with 54 teams, but these were the favorites from the get-go. After all, Balboa Bay beat MB Surf for the 17s Open title in 2022. Each squad is loaded with talented players from all around Southern California that will play college volleyball.
Leading the way for MB Surf was setter Tread Rosenthal (going to Hawai’i), outside hitter Sean Kelly (Princeton), and outside Victor Loiola (Long Beach State). All have been playing club together for a few years and competing on the U19 USA squad that has won back-to-back gold medals.
Rosenthal, who announced that he is forgoing his high school senior year to enroll in Hawaii for the fall of 2023, ran a fantastic offense. Kelly and Loiola provided service pressure for MB Surf, they were smooth at passing keeping the squad in system, and they both hit for a high hitting percentage.
“We have built a great team culture,” said Loiola, whose father Jose, has been one of the world’s best beach players who just became a UCLA assistant. “Our chemistry is second to none. Everyone that was part of this squad had faith and trusted the process.”
For the past month, the MB Surf staff worked on specific skills and tactics with an eye on winning the AAU Championship.
“We worked hitting our jump serves hard and limiting our attacking errors,” Loiola said.
In 18s Club, Tool City defeated SAVBC 25-23, 25-15. In 18s Premier, AZ Fear defeated Triangle Boys 25-10, 25-23.
Champions Division: Balboa Bay, AZ Fear, Bay to Bay, C2 Attack, MB Surf, MOD, MVC, Outrigger, San Juan, SASVBC, SBVC, Pinnacle, Sports Performance, Team Rockstar, The St. James, and WAVE.
Balboa Bay of Newport, California, the team to beat all season, took home the championship trophy by beating Pinnacle (26-24, 25-15).
Balboa Bay is loaded with NCAA-bound athletes, including outside Sterling Foley (USC), setter Trent Taliaferro (UCLA), middle Reed Wainwright (Stanford), and opposite Caleb Sapp (UCLA). This past club season Wainwright, Foley, and Taliaferro represented the U19 USA team that won a gold medal.
“We were successful against Pinnacle because our mentality the whole match was to stay in the present and don’t dwell on the past,” Foley said.
The two finalists were common foes throughout the season.
“Our most difficult game was against San Juan in the semifinals because we had never seen them play. Also, their fans are so loud and energetic the whole game,” Foley said.
In 17s Club, Borinquen Coqui defeated 630 21-25, 25-17, 15-10. In 17s Premier, AZ Fear defeated SG Elite 25-23, 25-12.
Championship Division: 630, 787EV ERREA, Academy, Adversity, AZ Fear, Balboa Bay, Bay to Bay, C2 Attack, Coast, Houston Volleyball Academy, MB Surf, MK Sting, Moutain View, Roch Pace Bootlegger, SC Legends, and Team Rockstar.
Balboa Bay of Newport, California, came in as the favorite and went 12-0 and only dropped four sets. In the final, Balboa Bay took down 630 from Chicago (25-18, 25-20). Middle Jack Berry and opposite Luke Morrison both hit for a high percentage and put up a blocking wall.
In 16s Club, Vanguard defeated MiElite 25-18, 20-25, 15-13. In 16s Premier, Balboa Bay defeated Bay to Bay 23-25, 25-14, 16-14
Championship Division: 949, Balboa Bay, Borinquen, Coast, Kaizen, MB Surf, MOD, MVC, Moutain View, Smash, Sports Performance, Team Rockstar, Torri and Winter Park.
949 from San Clemente finished 12-1 after beating Borinquen Coqui in the final (25-19, 25-17). The only loss 949 suffered was in pool pay to MVC on day two in a three-set thriller.
949 got great contributions from middle Sean Burick and setter Chase Wallin. Throughout the tournament, Wallin was running down balls and putting up gorgeous sets. This group has been together for four years. Their 12U team was during COVID, at 13U they finished second at nationals, at 14U earned a bronze, and this year broke through
In 15s Club, Vanguard defeated Torri 25-27, 25-17, 15-11. In 15s Premier, Louisville Fury defeated HVA 15 Performance 25-22, 25-11.
Championship Division: Aspire, Balboa Bay, Borinquen, C2 Attack, Coast, Future, SASVBC, SCVC, HPSTL (St. Louis), Team Rockstar,
The level of play was high in this division and the top attackers were destroying the ball. The 14s division is the oldest group of athletes that plays on the height of the women’s net. When they move to 15s they start playing on the men’s net.
There were aggressive jump serves, big-time attacks, smooth ball control, and long rallies. St. Louis came out on top in the final, beating C2 Attack(25-23, 26-28, 15-11).
“Our 14s team is arguably the hardest-working team at the club. The athletes on the 14s team train like college athletes, which is impressive since they are so young. The coaches don’t take it lightly on them at practice,” Jorge, HPSTL coach and the McKendree University assistant men’s coach.
St. Louis was led by Owen Carr, Sam Dicken, and Carter Rochleau, who carried the offensive load and were tough on the pins.
In 14s Club, Atlanta Extreme defeated 949 25-16, 25-13. In 14s Premier, Clava defeated Phoenix 25-16, 25-17
Championship Division: Balboa Bay, Coast, Guaynabo Volleyball Academy, Kaizen, MB Surf, MKE Sting, MVVC, SC Legends, Team Rockstar, and Vaqueros.
Guaynabo Volleyball Academy from Puerto Rico, one of the 10 that advanced from the 23-team field, went 11-1 and beat Team Rockstar in the final (25-19, 25-11). All the while, Nestor Pedraza proved that he was one of the best setters in the 13s Open.
GVA’S only loss came in pool play to Team Rockstar in three (25-22, 20-25, 12-15). In the final, GVA did a better job of minimizing their errors and made adjustments. Logan Flores and Jameson Stringer are excellent attackers who scored in bunches for Team Rockstar.
In 13s Club, SASVBC defeated Torrimar 25-12, 28-16.
Championship Division: 949, Bayou Boys, Borinquen Coqui, Coast, MB Surf, Mountain View, Roch Pacebootlegger, SASVBC, and Torrimar.
Mountain View Volleyball Club from the Bay Area went 12-0 and lost just two sets on the way to the title. Outside Micah Flores, setter Vihaan Narayan and middle Kian Schober were steady throughout and they shined in the final against Torrimar, which MVVC won 21-25, 25-21, 15-12.
Torrimar of Puerto Rico came out in set one running on all cylinders and their fans were cheering in their best form. MVVC weathered the storm by float serving with pace to get Torrimar out of system. When the opportunities came MVVC had some critical kills.
Over four days of the tournament, many college coaches hovered around the courts. The AVCA put on a recruiting seminar this past Sunday that included USC head coach Jeff Nygaard, Masters head coach Jared Goldberg, Hobart and William Sm College head coach Steve England, and Ohio State assistant coach Hudson Bates. It was well attended by athletes, coaches and parents.