VolleyballMag.com’s March club national rankings: The 18s

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San Antonio Juniors 18s Adidas

We expand our 18s rankings from 25 to 30 teams this time around, but there is remarkable stability near the top of the rankings. With only three more qualifiers before Junior Nationals in Columbus and no major JVA events before the end of April, how much will the rankings change before the top teams, other than the JVA powers, get together to decide things on the national stage? 

And now, without further ado …

March 31 National 18s Club Rankings
1. Texas Advantage 18 Black (Texas)
February ranking: 1
18 Black is 54-0 after roaring through MEQ this past weekend. This team’s calling card is its ability to first-ball side out with amazing consistency.

2. Munciana Samurai (Indiana)
February ranking: 2
The Bluegrass champs are 50-0 and haven’t played the same lineup yet! TAV 18 Black head coach Joe Jablonski advocated for Samurai to be No. 1, because of their “crazy good” ball control. We don’t agree, because of strength of schedule. If the Mideast Power League had been stronger this year, Mike Lingenfelter’s team might have had more of a case.

3. Sports Performance 18 Elite (Illinois)
February ranking: 4
This team has horses but it has been lightly raced. But its one time on the track, in Louisville (home of the Kentucky Derby), 18 Elite finished second, losing only to No. 2 Munciana Samurai. Seth Salmon’s team beat the likes of Tri-State, Union and Elevation, all top 25 teams. So, we’ll keep this team in the top three, but may be unforgiving in these rankings should this team stumble in its next big event.

4. Colorado Juniors 18Kevin (Colorado)
February ranking: 16
Not only did 20-1 Juniors impress by winning Crossroads two weekends ago, Kevin Marquis’ team also has not lost a SET in the Rocky Mountain Region over the past two seasons!

5. Tstreet 18-Kasia (California)
February ranking: 7
Tstreet moves up a couple of spots due to a win this week at Lone Star after a second-place showing the weekend before at Crossroads. OH Elysse Stowell led Tstreet’s 9-0 showing in Houston.

6. Adversity 18 Adidas (Illinois)
February ranking: 13
Winning MEQ and Red Rock on back-to-back weekends? Well done, indeed!

7. MAVS KC 18-1 (Kansas)
February ranking: 8
MAVS lost a middle to injury at Red Rock on Day 1 yet still managed to go 9-1 and tie for third. This is a very good volleyball team. They are, however, lousy at Top Golf…

8. A5 18-Scott (Georgia)
February ranking: 3
A5 went 8-1 over the weekend at NEQ and gave No. 1 TAV 18 Black a competitive match in the finals. I know I have Scott Shelley’s team eighth but, in my opinion, this is THE team with the potential to knock TAV from its perch at Junior Nationals.

9. Houston Skyline 18 Royal (Texas)
February ranking: 5
Here’s what head coach Cydryce McMillian said about her 26-4 team:We are a gritty and versatile team that grinds in the trenches for each other.  We train ugly to honor our opponents with our best.  Our tenacity and physical presence have placed us in the top four while double qualifying for Nationals.”

10. San Antonio Juniors 18 Adidas (Texas)
February ranking: 24
SA Juniors (34-13 overall) is on an upward trajectory after finishing second behind Adversity 18 Adidas at Lone Star over the weekend. “We are not the same team from the first tourney back in December,” head coach Jen Montoya said. “This team has continued to improve, both as individuals and as a group. The players are hungry and putting in the work. They proved this past weekend at the Lone Star Classic that they are in the right mindset and can consistently compete at a high level. We conquered so many intense moments. Their heart, their courage and their game were on point.”

11. OTVA 18 O Felix (Florida)
February ranking: 22
OT is another team on the rise. Felix Viera’s team, which is 46-10, has split with SA Juniors and could easily have been in the 10-spot. “The keys to our team are our consistent serving, defense, and ball control,” Viera said.

12. Premier Nebraska 18 Gold (Nebraska)
February ranking: 9
OH Lindsay Krause has been out of the lineup since the Northern Lights qualifier due to a sprained knee. The team has still been very formidable, with OH Norah Sis most times absolutely unstoppable. This is another team that could be a threat to dethrone TAV or at least make the podium with a healthy roster come Columbus.

13. Tri-State Elite 18 Blue (Ohio)
February ranking: 21
Tri-State is 30-11 and was inspirational qualifying at MEQ. Second to No. 2 Munciana in the Mideast Power League, 18 Blue has two players who are the first two to be with the club for eight years: OH Emma Grace and libero Emily Wichmann.

 14. Mizuno Northern Lights 18-1 (Minnesota)
February ranking: 14
A scary offensive team, Lights has finished T-5 at two qualifiers this year. Dave Manka’s squad will attempt to qualify this weekend at Show Me, where only 13 teams are in the field. That means only two bids will be available…

15. AZ Storm Elite 18 Thunder (Arizona)
February ranking: 10
AZ Storm likes to travel. Apparently the weather in its home state this time of year is not appealing. Jamie Rolfes’ team qualified in Florida in January and recently finished T-5 at Lone Star in Houston.

16. Dallas Skyline 18 Purple (Texas)
February ranking: 25
Skyline qualified the hard way at Lone Star. It lost just twice, to AZ Storm and Houston Skyline, but both were in pool play on Day 2. With enough already-qualified teams, a team outside of the Day 3 Gold pools was going to qualify. That turned out to be Skyline, which won three matches in Flight 1 to secure its bid.

17. WAVE 18 Kevin (California)
February ranking: 15
WAVE is 23-5 overall and 1-0 versus Coast, which is why it gets the nod. The team will head north to the Sierra National qualifier in Reno next weekend in search of its bid.

18. Coast 18-1 (California)
February ranking: 6
Coast is better than this but the team hasn’t played to expectations in its first two qualifiers. Big South awaits this weekend for Ozhan Bahrambeygui’s squad.

19. Houston Juniors 18 Elite (Texas)
February ranking: not ranked
HJV hopes to have injured middle Erika Williams back for Junior Nationals in a month’s time. “I think she will give us a MUCH different look than people have seen,” coach Kara Pratt said about her team, which is playing its best volleyball of the season at the right time.

20. Mintonette m. 81 (Ohio)
February ranking: 20
The core group of this team, which qualified at the Winter Championships in Chicago, has played/trained together since they were 12 years old. “They have great team chemistry and unity,” head coach Audrey Flaugh said.

21. Michigan Elite 18 Mizuno (Michigan)
February ranking: 18
MI Elite was very good and very consistent until MEQ two weeks ago. Perhaps superstar setter Julia Bishop trying to hoist helpers two weeks after surgery for a broken hand explains the 2-5 showing.

22. Union 18-UA (Kentucky)
February ranking: 12
Union is MUCH better than this ranking, but scoreboard matters. Seeded first overall to start MEQ, Union was knocked out of contention by a three-way tiebreaker on Day 1, then also lost to 1st Alliance Silver on its way to tying for 28th. Union also has a loss to MI Elite, so this is where the team slots…

23. Carolina Union 18 Premier (North Carolina)
February ranking: not ranked
CUVC is 26-16, a record that reflects that it has rarely played with its complete roster. The team qualified in Tampa at the Boston Volleyball Festival and has been resilient all year. Case in point: the team has won TWO matches in which it lost the first set, 26-24, and was down, 24-19, in the second set!

24. Elevation 18 Goller (Ohio)
February ranking: 19
Elevation’s last big tourney was Bluegrass early in the month. Tied for third. Took No. 3 Sports Performance to 15-11 in the third. Not too shabby!

25. Academy Volleyball Cleveland Rox 18 Red (Ohio)
February ranking: not ranked
Coach Mer Gromala said this about her squad, which qualified at the Ohio Valley Qualifier: “This group lost a starting player to foot surgery in December, and had two starters who left early for college. They have handled it; so poised. We moved some kids around and two kids up and it’s been business as usual every day. This group is tough and so, so special.”

26. Club V 18 Ren Reed (Utah)
February ranking: not ranked
Club V rebounded from a poor showing at Crossroads to qualify at Red Rock one week later.  The team is 57-9 overall. “This team functions purely as a team,” coach Reed Carlson said. “There is not one player who outshines the rest.  It is the most balanced effort from each player I have ever coached.”

27. Encore 18 Goldhahn (California)
February ranking: not ranked
There is a serious Stanford connection on this team, which surprised by qualifying in its first competition of the year at Crossroads. Former Cardinal setter Katie Goldhahn is the head coach. Her assistant is Denise Corlett, the AVCA Hall of Famer and , until recently, Associate Head Coach for the 2018 and 2019 National Champions. And the setter is junior Millie Muir. She’s committed to Duke, but her father is the AD at Stanford and she has a sister on the lacrosse team there.

28. Metro 18 Travel (Washington D.C.)
February ranking: Others to watch
Metro, which qualified earlier in the season at Ohio Valley, is 11-5 over its last two qualifiers, including a split versus East Coast Power 18 Royal KOP. Metro won in two and lost in three, the latter without a starter. That gives the DC team the barely nod in these rankings.

29. KC Power 18-1 (Kansas)
February ranking: not ranked
Power hasn’t qualified yet but should this weekend at Show Me. The team has a strong coach in Dave Johnson and a roster that belongs in Open in Columbus.

30. A4 Volley 18 Joaco (California)
February ranking: not ranked
Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this team. The team is 7-10 in the Premier Volleyball League and has lost six more sets than it has won. Only three of the 10 losses are to teams in these rankings. So how does a team with this past go 8-2 at Red Rock to qualify? I’m still waiting/hoping to find out. Joaquin?

Dropped out
Former No. 11 FC Elite 18 Elite (Wisconsin)
Former No. 17 Milwaukee Sting 18 Gold (Wisconsin)
Former No. 23 FaR Out 18 Black (Michigan)
Other teams to watch (in alphabetical order)
1st Alliance 18 Silver (Illinois)
A5 18-Boba (Georgia)
Adversity 18 Adidas Purple
(Illinois)
AZ Sky 18G
(Arizona)
Circle City 18 Purple
(Indiana)
Cleveland Volleyball Company 18 Black (Ohio)
Club Fusion 18 Red
(Illinois)
East Coast Power 18 Royal
(Pennsylvania)
East Valley Juniors 18N-1 Tempe
(Arizona)
FaR Out 18 Black
(Michigan)
FC Elite 18 Elite (Wisconsin)
Legacy Adidas 18-1
(Michigan)
Rancho Valley 18 Premier
(California)
MichioChicago 18 National
(Illinois)
Milwaukee Sting 18 Gold
(Wisconsin)
Rockwood Thunder 18 Elite (Missouri)
TAV Houston 18 Black (Texas)
The Academy 18E Rage
(Indiana)
Top Select 18 Elite Blue
(Florida)
Tribe 18 Elite Annika
(Florida)
VC Nebraska 18 Elite (Nebraska)
Wattle Daub Nation 18-Adidas (Louisiana)
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