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VolleyballMag.com DREAM TEAM for February 16
S/RS: Calli Kenny, 5-9 Sophomore, 1st Alliance 16 Gold (IL) — Kenny had a great weekend to help 1st Alliance go 6-0 in the Windy City Power League and stay at the top of Bracket A. A versatile setter who is effective in a 5-1 or 6-2 offense, and can even hit outside, Kenny had 86 assists, 15 digs, five blocks, seven aces, passed a 2.10 and added 28 kills while hitting .511 over two days last weekend. She is a leader with an aggressive style and plays defense like a libero. A great athlete, Kenny has a great grasp of what her opponent is trying to do and always puts her hitters in good situations. All of that ability showed itself this past weekend for Trish Samolinski’s team.
RS: Izzy Swiercz, 6-0 Sophomore, FaR Out 16 Black (MI) — A new addition to the team this year after playing 14s a year ago, Swiercz has been preparing the past two months to play at this level. She had her coming out party last weekend at the Mideast Power League as FaR Out went 5-0 in the 15s/16s division with just one dropped set. Over 11 sets, Swiercz had 24 kills while hitting .404. She added five blocks, 10 digs and two aces. “She is versatile in her ability to pass, defend, and play on both pins for us,” noted coach Val Lurye. “She is an integral piece that this team needs to take their success to the next level.”
OH: Ella Borner, 5-6 OH, Mizuno M1 15-3 (MN) — Borner led 15-3 to a second-place finish in the Gold division at the North Country Region Smackfest. M1 won 10 of its 12 sets. Borner was strong and consistent all weekend, but was unstoppable in the two-set semi-final win over Premier VBC 15-1. Borner, who averaged more than five kills, three digs and three service aces per set, was named to the All-Tournament Team and was the recipient of Mizuno M1 15-3’s weekly traveling “Teammate Trophy.” This weekly honor is bestowed upon players that not only achieve high athletic success but, most importantly, demonstrate a great attitude and support for their team.
OH: Emma Winter, 6-0 Senior, NORCO 18 Black (CO) — 18 Black went 4-0 in the top Power division in Colorado over the weekend to claim the No. 1 spot in the state for the second Power in a row. Winter, a six-rotation lefty who remains uncommitted, logged 43 kills and passed and served well for her squad. She played all six rotations without any substitutions during the day. “This performance is just a normal day’s work for this outstanding athlete,” noted head coach Steve Colpus.
MB: Tierney Barlow, 6-2 Senior, Colorado Juniors 18 Jayne (CO) — Barlow, a Wyoming signee, led 18 Jayne to a second-place finish last weekend in Division 1 of Rocky Mountain Region play. She attacked at a very high percentage, with 42 kills on 75 swings, topped the team in number of attacks as a middle and had a team-high 14 blocks.
MB: Kaylee Tribble, 5-10 Sophomore, MVP 60450 16 Black (IL) — Tribble was dominant in all three matches for MVP at the Windy City Power League. Over seven sets, she finished with 18 kills, 13 blocks and three aces. “Her movement on offense also created many opportunities for her pins to hit against a solo block,” noted coach Matt Grandgeorge. MVP is a club that promotes multi-sport athletes while allowing them to improve at volleyball.
Libero: Reese Emerick, 5-8 Sophomore, AJV 16 Adidas (TX) — Emerick was instrumental in 16 Adidas, playing up an age group, winning 17 Open at the ATX Showcase this past weekend. She had 10 digs, two assists, an ace, and zero reception errors in the championship match against Texas Fury. In the semis against Alamo, she had 13 digs, three aces, and no reception errors. She had 48 digs (4 digs per set) and 6 aces on the weekend. “She did her job beautifully and allowed the rest of the game to flow through her,” said Rachel Corbelli. “The team trusted her and can lean on her when the competition gets tough.”
DS: Mia Perez, 5-5 Sophomore, Roots ATX 16 Maple (TX) — Perez was a standout at the ATX Showcase this past weekend. She passed a personal best 2.3, served 10 aces and have four kills across six matches versus tough opponents. “Mia played lights out on the court,” coach Nicole O’Banon exclaimed. “She was everywhere on defense, running through shanked balls and digging heat from opponents.”
Also considered (by position, in order of consideration):
S/RS: Megan Becker, 5-10 Junior, Top Notch 17U Elite (IL) — Top Notch played in an 18s tournament this past weekend without its right side. Becker, the team’s setter, stepped in to play three rotations on the opposite pin and dominated. She led the team in kills, while also bringing her competitiveness to the court, making smart plays as a setter and playing defense like a champ.
S/RS: Maddie Zechman, 5-9 Freshman, Elite VBTC 15 Black (OH) — Elite went 3-2 in Mideast Power League play over the weekend, losing only to powerful Adidas KiVA 15 Red. She had seven aces to help her team and was a consistent presence on the court, setting a 6-2 and hitting the first day and setting a 5-1 the second day. “She hustled and help lead her team to a successful weekend with her consistent play,” her coach said.
S: Valeria Ortiz, 5-8 Junior, Alamo 17 Elite (TX) — Alamo went 4-1 last weekend at the ATX Showcase in Austin, good enough for a tie for third in the 16-team 17 Open field. Alamo lost only to eventual champion, AJV 16 adidas. “Val moved the ball extremely well this weekend, allowing our hitters great opportunities to score,” noted coach Stephanie Coates. “Her decision-making and placement were on point. She consistently scored from the serving line. She played disciplined defense and extended rallies when challenged by our opponents. Her energy and leadership on the court were outstanding.”
OH: Sydney Bryant, 6-2 Freshman, HJV 15 Elite (TX) — Injuries gave Bryant the opportunity to play on the left side for the first time all season. She came through big time to help 15 Elite win the 16s division at the City of Houston H-Town Showdown event. Bryant hit .280 on 50 swings, had 10 digs and was a major contributor to her team’s success.
OH: Rachel Johnson, 6-0 Senior, JJVA 18 Teal — Johnson was instrumental in her team’s success at the Florida Region 18s Qualifier last weekend in Winter Haven. She led all players with 51 kills and 17 aces, while passing a 1.92 in serve receive. The Holy Cross signee finished with a 0.265 hitting percentage and added 34 digs en route to her team finishing 8-1 overall.
OH: Grace Nelson, 6-1 Sophomore, 1st Alliance 16 Gold (IL) — Nelson was a huge reason 1st Alliance went 6-0 on the weekend at the Windy City Power League. “Her serve-receive kept us in system and her shots and fast arm kept all defenses guessing this weekend,” said coach Trish Samolinski. Playing six rotations, Nelson was effective front row and back. Over 13 sets, she amassed 50 kills while hitting .330. Nelson added 28 digs, four blocks, two aces and passed a 2.32.
OH: Brooklyne Darby, 5-9 Senior, Elite VBTC 17 Black (Ohio) — Elite was missing players at MEPL this weekend. Darby stepped up for her team, which ran a different lineup and still went 3-2. “She had a calm demeanor and kept everyone settled throughout the weekend,” said coach Amanda Gray. “She is one of the most even-headed athletes I have ever coached. She isn’t fazed by errors and mistakes; she accepts them as challenges and overcomes them by demanding the ball the next play. Brooklyne has a way of either putting a ball through the floor or making a finesse smart shot to score. Her competitive drive and willingness to hold herself and her team accountable is what makes her special. Brooklyne really stepped up and outperformed herself this weekend.” Elite’s success helped it advance to the top pool for the next MEPL gathering.
OH: Sydney Helmers, 6-5 Junior, Adidas KiVA 17 Red (KY) — Helmers played the best volleyball of her season at the Mideast Power League over the weekend. Hampered by concussions since the fall high school campaign, Helmers showed just how dominant she can be in leading her team within a breath of upsetting Munciana Samurai in the 17-18 division championship match.
OH: Kayden McKinney, 5-8 Freshman, Elite VBTC 15 Black (OH) — Elite went 3-2 in power league play over the weekend, losing only to powerful Adidas KiVA 15 Red. McKinney was a consistent hitter for her team and passed very well. Said coach Gweyn Zechman: “Her energy and work ethic helped her team compete at the highest level throughout the two days of competition.”
Libero: Isabella Ceja, 5-6 Junior, Alamo 17 Elite (TX) — Alamo lost in three to the eventual champion in the semifinals but otherwise was a perfect 4-0 playing 17 Open at the ATX Showcase in Austin last weekend. Ceja was a rock for the team in the back row. “Ceja’s intensity and tenacity on the back line extended plays and kept the team in system and on the attack consistently throughout the weekend,” coach Stephanie Coates said. “She was amazing in serve receive, consistently passing 3 passes and allowing us to establish our middles. She scored from the serving line. Her leadership was consistent throughout the weekend, bringing a steady encouraging voice to the team.”
Libero: Sakura Codling, 5-4 Freshman, Tri-State Elite 15 Blue (OH) — Tri-State went 5-0 in the Mideast Power League over the weekend and took over the No. 3 overall seed with a two-set win over K2 16-1 Adidas. Codling played a key role, passing 54 percent perfect with numerous highlight digs.
DS: Molly Sullivan, 5-4 eighth grader, CVC 15 Black (OH) — CVC took first at Clash at the Point over the weekend, playing in the Open division. A former setter transitioning to the back row, Sullivan was a spark off the bench with her aggressive serving. She plays middle back, is a confident passer and chases down balls off the block. Occasionally she puts on the libero jersey for her team. Playing up an age group, she demonstrates prowess with yet more room to grow.
DS: Cece Tarpening, 5-6 Freshman, Sunshine 15 Westside (CA) — Sunshine played in a 16s tournament this weekend without its starting libero, who was missing due to injury. Tarpening, in her first year as a defensive specialist, stepped into the role and performed admirably.
Every Wednesday during the club season, 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 or S/RS
Setter, S/RS or RS
We include our eight-player Dream Team below, as well as others we considered, based exclusively upon nominations received. (Are you a coach/director who may want to nominate someone next week or in future weeks? Just complete this handy-dandy form: https://volleyballmag.wufoo.com/forms/r7ybeg30hedscp/)
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.
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