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This is the first of what will be a weekly report this club season in which VolleyballMag.com will recognize a Dream Team of eight girls volleyball players (15s to 18s age groups) who were standouts the weekend before.

The team will consist of the following:
Setter
Setter, S/Right side or RS
Outside hitter
Outside hitter
Middle blocker
Middle blocker
Libero
Defensive specialist

This week we received more than 50 nominations, and include our eight-player Dream Team below, as well as 27 others, by position, whom we considered strongly. We write a narrative for everyone we include because … well … that’s just what we do!

Note to coaches and directors: While there is no science to how we choose members of our Dream Team, performing on bigger stages will give players an edge, as will nomination forms that describe with specificity how well a player performed the previous weekend.

Tatum Lane

S: Tatum Lane, 5-10 Junior, Surfside 17 MB Legends (CA) — With a key hitter out sick and a small roster to begin with, Surfside had to completely overhaul its offensive system to a triangle middle offense instead of a traditional 5-1 or 6-2 just two days before the two-day PVL tournament. Lane had to learn a full set of new rotations with hitters coming from completely different areas of the court and hitting sets and running plays they have not done before. She also found herself having to block both middle and left front, and then setting from those positions in order to give her hitters the best opportunities to be 1-on-1. With all of that going on, she perfectly executed her set locations and used her strength and footwork to reverse the flow and deceive the other teams block over and over again. “In the face of chaos and adversity, Tatum showed great leadership and focus that her team really needed,” said Surfside’s Hayley Blanchard.

RS: Sienna Ifill, 6-1 Senior, Mizuno Northern Lights 18-1 (MN) — Ifill was outstanding offensively and defensively in leading Lights to the 18 Open title at the Northern Lights Qualifier in Omaha. A southpaw who touches 10-7, Ifill soared over opponents all weekend long and terminated with authority, especially in big moments. She also used her vertical to obstruct and intimidate outside hitters and made it easier for those playing defense around her.

OH: Chloe Chicoine, 5-10 Junior, Circle City 17 Purple (IN) — Many consider Chicoine the best “inch for inch” player in the country and she lived up to those accolades in a tremendous weekend leading Circle to the 17 Open title at Central Zones over an elite field. “She put on a highlight real throughout the tournament,” coach Chris Due said. “Teams really struggled to have an answer for her as she was flying around the court making great plays and was a force to be reckoned with on the offensive end.”

OH: Katie Scherer, 6-1 Sophomore, Sports Performance 16 Elite (IL) — Scherer was a standout for 16 Elite, which played in the 18/17 Division at the Birmingham Blitz. She hit .355 over 14 sets and was very low error. Scherer also added 10 blocks and averaged three digs per set. Scherer showed her toughness by rebounding from a significant head shot while playing center back on defense to hit .400 in the match against the tournament’s top team.

Lee Caracci

MB: Kamryn Lee-Caracci, 6-0 Junior, 1st Alliance 17 Gold (IL) — Lee-Caracci dominated the 17 Open division of the Northern Lights Qualifier last weekend, where her team took first place and secured an Open bid to Junior Nationals. As a middle blocker, she led 17 Gold in total kills (70) and hitting percentage (.551) for the weekend. She was tops on the team in service aces (16) and tallied 10 digs as the serving middle. Lee-Caracci didn’t stop there, as she also tied the team for the most blocks with 14. Finally, Lee-Caracci led the team in points earned with 99, accounting for 25.6% of the total points the team earned for the weekend. Her amazing play put her not only in the conversation as the most dominant middle in the gym last weekend; but also as the top performer for the entire tournament.

Sarah Lezon

MB: Sarah Lezon, 5-11 Senior, Team Indiana Elite 18.1 (IN) — An unsigned senior, Lezon was an absolute force for Team Indiana on the weekend, as the squad came from the fifth overall seed to win 18 Open at the Central Zone Invitational. A versatile player who is comfortable at all points along the net, Lezon was unstoppable offensively. She hit .462 in the championship match and was near-perfect off of one foot behind the setter. She also dug well and served up ace after ace.

L: Heidi Devers, 5-4 Sophomore, Dynasty 17 Black (KS) — Nearly every ball Devers touched in the 17 Open Northern Lights Qualifier last weekend was perfect, noted head coach Brian Tate. She passed a 2.30 over 22 sets and averaged 4.5 digs per for a Dynasty team that came within just a few points from qualifying for Junior Nationals. “Her reactions keeping plays alive in coverage or in scramble plays were incredible,” Tate said.

Abby Meister

DS: Abby Meister, 5-5 Senior, Kairos Elite 18 Adidas (SD) — Seeded third to last in 28-team 18 USA field at Northern Lights, probably because the South Dakota squad was waitlisted until the Tuesday before, Meister was instrumental in Kairos’ going 9-0 to win the event and earn a bid to Junior Nationals. “Abby was a huge factor in all of our matches playing middle back defense for us,” noted coach Mitch Lunning. What makes Meister’s weekend even more remarkable is Kairos had two players, including OH Stella Winterfield, leave for basketball on Monday after the team won its semifinal match to clinch a bid. Meister stepped in as a six-rotation outside in the championship match and played “amazing” in Kairos’ three-set win over Iowa Select 18 Mizuno, the sixth three-set win in the tournament for the victors.

Also considered (by position, in order of consideration):

S: Phoebe Machan, 5-11 Junior, Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar  (CA) — Machan had three double-doubles (Assists and digs) along with six aces at a regional tournament. Machan played strong defense and demonstrated great leadership and prowess in running an offense.

S: Cameron Shelly, 5-9 Junior S, Roots 17 Under Armour Green (TX) — Shelly ran a 5-1 and helped her team win the CTX Cup. “She stepped up big time to get all players involved, involved the bic as part of her offense, and ran a faster offense than ever before,” said director Lindsay Rosenthal. “She is getting better every day!”

***

RS: Grace Heaney, 6-2 Junior, Premier Nebraska 17 Gold (NE) — Heaney was unstoppable at times in Premier’s push to a bid to Junior Nationals in 17 Open at the Northern Lights Qualifier. Down 14-11 in Game 3 versus MN Select in the Gold Pool championships, Heaney had a huge block and three kills to prompt a 5-0 run and 16-14 win that clinched the bid and propelled the Nebraska squad into the championship match.

***

OH: Neomi Beach, 5-11 Junior, Aspire 17-Premier (AZ) — Beach came up big in three-set wins over the top 18s sides at AZ Storm and AZ Revolution this weekend at an Arizona Region Open-level tournament. Beach hit .371 over four matches, averaging 3.2 kills per set, and was second on the team in digs.

OH: Elle Weaver, 6-0 Sophomore, SynergyForce 16 James (CA) — Weaver hit .333 on the weekend with 59 kills against 17s and 18s teams to help SynergyForce go 5-1 in league matches in the WCVBA, the new Northern California power league.   

OH: Aleah Tolliver, 5-11 Sophomore, The Academy 16 Yeti (IN) — Tolliver helped 16 Yeti to a 4-2 mark and T-5 in 16 Open at Central Zones over the weekend. She averaged nearly five kills and three digs per set and had nine kills in one set against Elite in a Day 1 sweep.

OH: Quinn Loper, 6-1 Freshman, Tstreet 15 Curtis  (CA) — A versatile six-rotation player talented enough to play on either pin or in the middle, Loper helped Tstreet tie for third in the 15s PVL Tournament this Saturday. “No matter where she was on the court this weekend, Quinn was producing for her team,” said coach Curtis Yoder. “What a stud!”

OH: Averie Hernandez, 6-0 Senior, Illini Elite 18 Cardinal (IL) — A six-rotation OH headed to Northwestern, Hernandez helped Illini Elite go 5-1 in 18 Open at the Central Zone Invitational. She played effectively in all rotations, hitting .317 and passing 2.27, and added six solo stuffs. “All eyes were glued to Averie and she still scored at will,” IE’s Kyle Caldwell noted.

OH: Lauren Lantow, 5-8 Freshman, Cleveland Volleyball Company 15 Black (OH) — At the Central Zone invitational, where CVC went 3-3 and placed 22nd in 15 Open, Lantow demonstrated her versatility by scoring from all areas of the court while providing great ball control. “She may seem undersized, but her heavy arm and vertical allowed her to score against bigger teams,” said coach Ron Gasper.

OH: Skylar George, 6-1 Junior, AVA Texas 17 Adidas (TX) — George was instrumental in leading AVA to a 9-0 weekend and first-place finish in 17 USA at the Northern Lights Qualifier. Noted Lauren Ellison: “She was absolutely solid as a six-rotation player, scoring points in the front row and back row offensively. She had killer blocks and gave some great competitive fire in key moments.”

OH: Malayah Adams, 6-1 Junior OH, Rage 17-Carmelo  (CA) — Improvement in blocking and hitting last weekend from Adams, a converted middle, helped Rage stay in the Gold Division in NCVA Power League play. She was able to get several momentum-changing kills, one of which an opposing coach termed, “the best hit I’ve seen in my life.”

***

MB: Daniela Rusich, 5-11 Sophomore, Surfside 15 PV Legends (CA) — Rusich crushed balls out of the middle and worked really hard closing the block on both pins, as Surfside won the 15s PVL tournament over the weekend.

MB: Katherine Shoup, 6-0 Sophomore, Dallas Summit 16 Nike Blue (TX) — Always instrumental to Summit’s success, Shoup was especially effective this past weekend at the North Texas Unity tournament. Over five matches, she amassed a team-high 23 kills, a team-high 12 blocks, added five aces, passed a 2.0 and led the team in dig percentage.

MB: Reese Dunkle, 6-2 Freshman MB, Circle City 15 Purple (IN) — Dunkle helped lead 15 Purple to a second-place finish in 15 Open at the Central Zone Invitational. She had eight blocks in one match versus Lexington United and was a force blocking in all other matches. A team leader, she also helped Circle stay calm in high-pressure situations, like when it faced match point against versus A5, 15-14, before contributing a solo stuff in a 3-0 closing run to secure a huge win.

MB: Tori Otter, 5-11 Freshman, Ozark Juniors 15 Elite (AR) — Otter served 100 percent for the weekend and averaged 3.38 kills per set (hitting .260) while playing middle and right side. She also averaged 1.19 blocks per set and passed a 2.0 in serve-receive.

***

L: Aniya Warren, 5-8 Freshman, Sports Performance 16 Elite (IL) — Playing in the 18/17 Division at the Birmingham Blitz, Warren helped SPVB 16 Elite go 5-1 and place fourth overall. Her team lost only to the undefeated champions in a game that went to 15-13 in the ultimate set. Warren, who plays up a year, averaged six digs per set and passed 2.23 for the weekend. She was especially effective on the tournament’s final day, making great saves and passing a 3.0 on half of her receptions.

L: Elizabeth Tabeling, 5-6 Sophomore, NKYVC 16-1 Tsunami (KY) — Tabeling anchored serve-receive and played fantastic defense for Tsunami, which won the 16 Open Division at the Central Zone Invitational with an unblemished 8-0 mark.

L: Olivia Mauch, 5-7 Sophomore, Premier Nebraska 17 Gold (NE) — Mauch led Premier in serve-receive and digs and was second in aces to spur her team to a 17 Open bid with a second-place finish at the Northern Lights National Qualifier.

L: Avery Freeman, 5-2 Freshman, Circle City 15 Purple (IN) — Freeman was integral in Circle City’s runner-up finish in 15 Open at last weekend’s Central Zone Invitational. She passed half the court and was more than solid in serve-receive. An opposing coach was overheard saying,” Whatever you do; don’t serve at the libero.”
 
L: Jordyn Schilling, 5-10 Senior, Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar  (CA) — Schilling had 20 digs in Long Beach’s upset win over national No. 1 Sunshine 18-LA in PVL action last weekend.

L: Koko Kirsch, 5-7 Junior, WAVE 17 Juliana  (CA) — Kirsch’s steady passing and impeccable defense helped lead WAVE past the likes of Sunshine 17-LA and Coast 17-1 to the title at the PVL Tournament last weekend. Kirsch is calm and exudes confidence; she helps her team believe and achieve.

L: Keri Leimbach, 5-2 Freshman, Nebraska ONE 15 Synergy (NE) — Leimbach had 77 digs and 17 aces over 18 sets to lead 15 Synergy to a 7-1 record and the title in the 15 Club Division at the January Thaw. Leimbach was also solid in serve-receive for a team that avenged its only loss with a semifinal sweep and twice swept Mizuno Northern Lights 15-1, including in the final match.

L: Ava Wind, 5-4 Sophomore, Roots 16 Under Armour Green (TX) — Wind had 21 aces and 67 digs on the weekend to help Roots to the 16s title at the CTX Cup.

L: Callie Krueger, 5-5 Freshman, Austin Skyline 15 Royal (TX) — Krueger passed a 2.4 and averaged 3.8 digs per set on the weekend in the Southern Blast tournament. The team recorded only one loss, against TAV 15 Black.

L: Ava Roth, 5-6 Junior, Rockwood Thunder 17 Elite (MO) — An Arkansas recruit, Roth led Rockwood to a 6-2 record and ninth-place finish in 17 Open at Northern Lights. She was solid in serve receive all weekend and made some amazing defensive plays. Above all, she is a great communicator  and teammate.

***

DS: Carly Zimmet, 5-4 Junior, Paramount VBC 17’s (VA) — Zimmet was instrumental in helping Paramount capture a 17 USA bid at Northern Lights. For the weekend, she led her team in passer rating, passing a 2.2. Zimmet also made many tremendous digs and hustle plays that helped change the momentum in various sets throughout the weekend, including in Paramount’s third-place match against a very talented Ozark Juniors team. “We had to win that 3rd place match versus Ozark Juniors to earn a bid, and Carly’s performance as a passer and as a defender in that match were absolutely vital,” noted coach Nick DiClementi.

DS: Kaleigh Frietch, 5-8 Sophomore, NKYVC 16-1 Tsunami (KY) — Frietch played six rotations for Tsunami in its first pool at the Central Zone Invitational, and even led the team in kills in one of the two matches. She returned to her DS position thereafter and played great defense while serving aggressively with many aces. Tsunami went on to win the 16 Open Division at the Central Zone Invitational with an unblemished 8-0 mark.

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