VolleyballMag.com’s April club national rankings: the 17s

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We expand our 17s rankings from 25 to 30 teams this time around. The teams out west remain wild cards, as only a few have has ventured out to date. The rest of this month, with Show Me, Lone Star and Far Western, will go a long way towards shaping the proper order of teams.

And now, without further ado…

April 17s National Rankings
1. Sunshine 17 Los Angeles (California)
February ranking: 1
Sunshine, 35-2, remains No. 1 heading to Show Me. Because Cari Klein’s team has yet to play outside of its region, Sunshine is seeded just fourth in the field of 24, which is probably appropriate because the team will play the weekend with a roster of just eight. The team will be without middles Kennedy Hill and Rhiann Sheffie, but expect them back soon.

2. Houston Skyline 17 Royal (Texas)
February ranking: 3
Houston Skyline is 21-1 overall and, through two qualifiers, the team has posted a .331 attack percentage (46 percent kill percentage).

3. Drive Nation 17 Red (Texas)
February ranking: 7
Drive Nation is 49-6 currently, including a win at MEQ in March. Head coach Jacob Hanan asked his team to come up with one great fact about them. Here it is: “Despite adversity, as a group we do a great job of continuing to stay tight knit and together as a group. Our togetherness we have adapted has really helped us continue to learn and grow together throughout the season so far.”

4. AZ Storm Elite 17 Thunder (Arizona)
February ranking: 4
Outside of a trip to California for a Premier Volleyball League event, where it defeated No. 1 Sunshine 17 LA but lost to a couple of unranked teams, Terri Spann’s team has remained in-state. Storm is 29-5 overall. “We stay competitive by competing against our 18 Thunder team [No. 15 nationally] as much as possible to best prepare for other top teams nationally,” Spann said.

5. Premier Nebraska 17 Gold (Nebraska)
February ranking: 5
Premier has been kind of quiet nationally since winning the Northern Lights qualifier and Asics in Omaha before the first rankings were released. The team, which is 40-4 overall, has seven wins against top 30 teams and only two losses in its age group, to Houston Skyline 17 Royal and Mizuno Northern Lights 17-1, both in three sets.

6. Adversity 17 Adidas (Illinois)
February ranking: 6
Adversity is 25-4 on the year and 1-1 against teams in the top 10. Kyle Masterson’s team defeated No. 3 Drive Nation 17 Red at the Northern Lights qualifier but lost to Drive Nation at MEQ. Adversity “qualified” at both events.

7. Madfrog 17 National Green (Texas)
February ranking: 8
Advanced Event Systems ranks the Frogs 39-3 on the season and No. 2 in its computer rankings, behind only Houston Skyline 17 Royal. Shelly Tucker’s team qualified third at the Sunshine Classic despite playing down two right sides.

8. OTVA 17 T Jason (Florida)
February ranking: 24
OT is 28-8 on the year after its 10-0 showing this past weekend at Big South. “This team is gritty and resilient,” head coach Jason Partington said.

9. WAVE 17 Rachel (California)
February ranking: 22
WAVE qualified on Sunday at Big South, finishing with a 9-1 record and third-place finish. “The great fact for this team is simply the team,” coach Rachel Morris said. “The cohesiveness of this group and the way they support one another, regardless of who is playing and who isn’t, is pretty great. In times of chaos and adversity, especially this last weekend, they leaned on one another and really supported each other in every way and it is why they were successful, regardless of who was on the floor.”

10. Metro 17 Travel (Washington D.C.)
February ranking: Team to watch
Metro is 33-5 on the year and has a second place finish at the Sunshine Classic and fourth place showing at Big South on its resume. The team is led by B1G middles Laila Ivey (Maryland) and Zaria Ragler (Ohio State).

11. A5 17-Jing (Georgia)
February ranking: 2
It’s safe to say that A5’s work over three qualifiers isn’t quite what you’d expect for a team that was ranked No. 2 nationally and has all that talent. Though A5 did qualify at MEQ, its record for the three qualifiers it has attended is a fairly pedestrian 20-8.

12. Circle City 17 Purple (Indiana)
February ranking: 9
Circle is 24-6 overall headed to Show Me this weekend. Makayla Ferguson took over this team within the past month and helped it qualify last weekend at Big South. “One great thing about this team is how versatile every player is,” Ferguson observed. “We have players being able to play in many positions and doing every skill at such a high level. It is difficult to play against.”


13. Texas Advantage 17 Black (Texas)
February ranking: 11
TAV is 35-9 overall and getting strong, consistent play from Harmony Sample and Aniya Clinton. The team qualified early, finishing third at MEQ. There is time, with no pressure to qualify, for head coach Ping Cao – the “Pingmaker?”™ — to work his magic before Junior Nationals in Las Vegas.

14. Dallas Skyline 17 Royal (Texas)
February ranking: 12
Skyline is 27-5 on the year. Very physical, according to coach Kirk Perry, the team is 1-0 versus No. 7 Madfrog 17 National Green and 1-1 against TAV 17 Black.

15. Tri-State Elite 17 Blue (Ohio)
February ranking: Team to Watch
Tri-State earned this ranking as a result of its win at Bluegrass, where the team overcame a 15-13 Game 3 loss to VC United 17 Elite to win out. “It was a great team effort with contributions from all 11 athletes throughout the weekend grind,” club director Kelly Crowley observed. “I saw some big points won by RS Maggie Butkovich and MBs Gracie Reisman and Kate Hafer.”

16. NORCO 17 Black (Colorado)
February ranking: 14
NORCO is 22-5 overall, but hasn’t ventured outside of the region since placing second to Premier Nebraska in Omaha over President’s Day. Indeed, the only qualifier on the schedule is Crossroads in May. “One great fact about my team is we started the season with no true outside hitters,” head coach Janae Vander Ploeg noted. “We moved a middle and our lefty right side to the outside and both have stepped up to make us a competitive team. We have a team full of athletes who display grit every time they step on the court.”

17. Mizuno Northern Lights 17-1 (Minnesota)
February ranking: 19
Lights is 24-6 on the year and owns wins over two top five teams, Houston Skyline 17 Royal and Premier Nebraska 17 Gold. Lights, which has yet to qualify, is the No. 1 seed at this weekend’s Show Me qualifier in KC.

18. Nebraska Elite 17-Alpha (Nebraska)
February ranking: 20

Nebraska Elite is 34-7 on the year and owns wins over Circle City 17 Purple and Mizuno Northern Lights 17-1. “We took 12 players this season and this is the deepest team we’ve had in club history with some of the best teamwork I’ve experienced as a coach,” Dr. Andrew Wehrli said.

19. Coast 17-Rodrigo (California)
February ranking: 21
We did not hear from Coast for these rankings, but know the team is 13-3 in PVL play, including a three-set win over No. 1 Sunshine 17-LA. The Red Rock Rave and Lone Star qualifiers will test their mettle.

Absolute 17 Black

20. Absolute 17 Black (California)
February ranking: Team to Watch
Absolute is 15-2 on the year and has won both tournaments it has entered to date. It recently traveled south to play in the PVL March Challenge and won! Jake Spain’s team split matches with WAVE 17 Rachel and defeated Tstreet 17-Naseri in straight sets. This is a team that has qualified in Open every year but the COVID year.

21. Tstreet 17-Naseri (California)
February ranking: Team to Watch
Tstreet is surging. The team went 6-0 in power pool play at the latest PVL tournament before losing a close final to Sunshine 17-LA. The team is now 13-3 overall in league play and 31-8 overall. Far Westerns, Red Rock Rave and Crossroads are all on the schedule as the team seeks its ticket to Vegas for Junior Nationals. “A fun fact about this team has been the growth they’ve made in terms of being the best version of themselves despite losing an entire year of opportunities to compete,” coach Naseri Tumanuvao said. “Every athlete on this team is actively searching for ways to improve. The team has consistently finished in the top 5 of every PVL Tournament to date. It’s a testament to their commitment, character, and resilience.”

22. Spike and Serve 17 Red (Hawaii)
February ranking: 13
Hawaii has been hit hard by COVID, making club tournaments in the Aloha State tenuous. “We’ve had to get creative and collegiate,” coach Kevin Wong said.  “We were lucky to have some amazing NCAA players in the gym throughout the season.  Players like Phoebe Grace from Utah, Lexis Akeo from Pitt, and Heipua Tautua’a from San Diego State were mainstays during December and January.  We were lucky to add Oregon/Hawaii star Jolie Rasmussen as a regular practice player/coach starting in January.  We’ve even had a chance to schedule collegiate teams for scrimmages.”

 
23. Club Ignit Select 17 Blue (Iowa)
February ranking: 16
Ignit has hardly played since the initial ranking. Tina Carter’s team played in the Midwest PL with its libero and M1 and went 2-1 against 17s teams. “The results weren’t quite what we hoped.” Ignit gets after it in a meaningful way this weekend at Show Me. It is seeded 12th in a 24-team field. Someone is in for a surprise… 

24. VC United 17 Elite (Illinois)
February ranking: 17
Wayne King’s team was the top seed at Bluegrass and was going strong until a shocking loss to Adidas KiVA 17 Red in the quarterfinal match of the Gold bracket. The team, 17-3 overall, has been on hiatus recently, as the club has essentially shut down during Illinois’ spring high school volleyball season. King said the team has yet to have its full roster at any big event this club season.

25. North Carolina Academy 17 Diamond (North Carolina)
February ranking: Team to Watch
17 Diamond is 21-5 on the season and recently went 6-2 at Big South. Jon Garner’s team has been playing without Kayla Burbage, a 6-3 RS committed to Missouri, for the past six weeks. She played a little in Atlanta and offered a glimpse into what this team, led by setter Riley Buckley, can truly be when fully healthy.

26. Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar (California)
February ranking: 10
Injuries have held this team back early in the season. Coached by Tiffany Rodriguez, Long Beach is just 9-7 in the PVL and has struggled to defeat the region’s elite teams. The team has two more weeks to heal up before heading to Reno for the Far Western qualifier, its first national competition this season. We all know that this team, when healthy is at least 10-15 spots higher than No. 26.

27. Academy Volleyball Cleveland 17 National (Ohio)
February ranking: 15
AVC is 22-8 on the year and still trying to figure out a lineup that works. “Our middles have spent half the season playing six rotations,” head coach Meredith Gromala said.

28. OTVA 17 O Roberto (Florida)
February ranking: 18
OT Roberto is another team that has yet to play to its talent level. The team is 24-12 overall and only 8-8 between the Sunshine Classic and Big South qualifiers.

29. 1st Alliance 17 Silver (Illinois)
February ranking: Team to Watch
1st Alliance is 30-10 on the season and showed well at Bluegrass. One of the team’s setters, Katie Russell, is interested in joining the military. The team started to salute her at practice and now it has become their cheer for her when she gets an ace.”

30. Rockwood Thunder 17 Elite (Missouri)
February ranking: Team to Watch
Rockwood is 32-12 overall and 12-6 between the Sunshine Class and MEQ qualifiers. The team is led by outsides Carly Glendinning and Madison Scheer and MB Vanessa Polk.

Dropped out:
Previous No. 23 Sunshine 17 Westside (California)
Previous No. 25 Houston Juniors 17 Elite (Texas)

Other teams to watch (in alphabetical order):
A2 17 Green (Ohio)
Adidas KiVA 17 Red
(Kentucky)
Axis Elite 171 Korrinn
(South Carolina)
Boomers 17 Black Chris
(Florida)
Dynasty 17 Black
(Kansas)
EpicUnited 17 Elite
(Indiana)
Excel 17 National Red (Texas)
Forza1 17 UA
(California)
Gainesville Juniors 17 Elite
(Florida)
Houston Juniors 17 Elite
(Texas)
Houston Skyline 17 Black (Texas)
Iowa Rockets 17R
(Iowa)
KC Power 17-1
(Kansas)
Legacy Adidas 17-1
(Michigan)
Michio Chicago 17 National
(Illinois)
Milwaukee Sting 17 Gold
(Wisconsin)
Mintonette m.71
(Ohio)
Munciana 17 Pandas
(Indiana)
NKYVC 17 Tsunami (Kentucky)
PVA 17 Elite
(Kansas)
Roots 17 UA Green (Texas)
San Gabriel Elite 17 Roshambo
(California)
Sunshine 17 Westside (California)
Team Indiana Elite 17 (Indiana)
Triangle 17 Black (North Carolina)

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