Every Wednesday during the club season, VolleyballMag.com plans to recognize a Dream Team of eight girls volleyball players (15s to 18s age groups) who were standouts the weekend before.
The team, most weeks, 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. This week’s Dream Team will include standouts from the past two weeks, since we did not produce a Dream Team last week. It also will include a third middle to take the place of a DS, since we received no DS nominees.
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.
VolleyballMag.com DREAM TEAM for March 22
S/RS: Bela Haggard, 5-11 Soph., Adidas KiVA 16 Red (KY) – Haggard set and blocked like a champ in leading KiVA to the 16 Open title this past weekend at MEQ.
RS: Nela Misipeka, 5-5 Jr., Pohaku 17-1 (KS) – Misipeka is the heartbeat of her Pohaku team despite being one of the smallest pin players in 17 Open. Last weekend at MEQ, in leading Pohaku to sixth place out of 48 teams in 17 Open, she consistently won her matchups. “Opposing coaches and college coaches rave about her IQ and all-around play,” said Conan Salanoa. “She’s also one of the hardest hitters out there. She makes plays whether it’s hitting, blocking, passing or defending. She can do it all.”
OH: Hailie Vaughn, 5-11 Fr., Pohaku 15-1 (KS) — Vaughn was a consistent six-rotation force throughout power league play, where Pohaku went 15-0. The team went 5-0 two weekends ago. Vaughn led the team in kills while hitting .415. She passed a 2.10 for the day. “There is nothing she can’t do on the volleyball court,” noted director Conan Salanoa. “She is sure to turn some heads during the qualifier season”
OH: Lakin Laurendine, 6-2 Sr., Infinity 18 Open Lexie (MS) – Laurendine, an Auburn signee and the best HS player in Mississippi, led her cub team to the title at Bama Beast, where she was named MVP of the 17/18 Division. “Lakin has the ability to change the outcome of the game in every aspect,” noted Infinity recruiting director Mel Denson. “She is unstoppable at the net and a true leader on the court.”
MB: Brooke Bultema, 6-3 Sr., Elevation 18 Spinney (OH) – Elevation is on a 26-match winning streak over the past three weeks, which has resulted in wins at Bluegrass, the OVR Region Bid Tournament and, this past weekend, 18 Open at MEQ. Bultema, a Kentucky signee, has always been a standout, but the senior has taken her game to a new level in leading Elevation to win after win. “All of the extra workouts, healthy eating, stretching, and lifting routines have put Brooke on another level,” said director John Paul Case. “We always knew Brooke was going to be successful because she had some measurable advantages. It’s the intangibles and work ethic that have made the difference and everyone around her notices.”
MB: Catherine Burke, 6-3 Sr., Adversity 18G Adidas (IL) – Burke, a Penn State signee, had two great weekends in a row. The first, she led her team in hitting percentage, blocks and aces, and played six rotations at times, as Adversity won the Great Lakes Regional Qualifier. Last week, she was a terror in helping her team qualify in 18 Open at MEQ. Burke finished with 52 kills, 24 blocks and seven aces in Indy and touched so many balls that Adversity was able to have many extra swings that it turned often into kills.
MB: Morgan Holloman, 6-1 Fr., Colorado Juniors 15Sherri (CO) – Hollomon’s presence at the net helped CJ punch its ticket to Chicago at the Rocky Mountain Region Bid Tournament. She hit .440 with 28 kills on 55 swings and had 18 blocks over nine sets. Holloman’s transition offense was off the charts, as she made herself available time and again and was rewarded for her hard work.
Libero: Kristen Simon, 5-7 Soph., Adidas KiVA 16 Red (KY) – Simon took up three-fourths of the court at MEQ while calling the defensive signals for the 16 Open champs. She’s a leader and tenacious defender in the KiVA mold.
Also considered (by position, in order of consideration):
S: Ava Martin, 5-9 Jr., Pohaku 17-1 (KS) – Martin was instrumental in several wins for Pohaku, which went 7-3, good for sixth out of 48 teams, in 17 Open at MEQ last weekend. “Ava may be one of the most underrated setters in the nation,” Conan Salnoa asserted. “Often overlooked because of her size and because she’s not flashy, Ava runs a fast and balanced offense. With an undersized team, she almost always puts hitters in great scoring situations and makes great decisions. We feel she’s as good or better than any setter in the nation. She went on many scoring runs throughout the tournament to help lead her team at MEQ.”
S: Cortni Youngblood, 5-6 Sr., Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar (CA) – A versatile player with the skill to play many positions, Youngblood stepped into a setter role because of a knee injury to a Long Beach setter and helped her team go 2-1 in region play in the top division. Her amazing defense was no surprise, given that Youngblood is projected to play libero for UC Santa Barbara in the fall.
S: Sophie Baldwin, 5-8 Soph., JJVA 16 Black (FL) – Baldwin led her team to a perfect weekend at the First Coast Festival in Jacksonville this past weekend. Her setting choices were consistently sound. Baldwin not only plays volleyball at a high level, she is part of the Brunswick/St. Simons Island Civil Air Patrol and has accepted an aviation scholarship to the US Air Force Aim High Flight Academy for this coming summer.
S: Amor Rapoza, 5-8 Jr., Ka’ulukoa 17U Geno (HI) – Ka’ulukoa went 3-5 at Red Rock in the 17 USA division two weekends ago. Rapoza, who usually sets only three rotations, ran a 5-1 for the weekend and did very well. A renowned gym rat, Rapoza posted 40 assists, 20 digs and eight aces during her time on the court.
RS: Avery Junk, 5-10 Fr., Surfside MB 15 Legends Tommy (CA) – Longtime Redondo Union head coach Tommy Chaffins, who coaches this team, calls the Junk twins among the top two percent in terms of athleticism that he has coached over the past 30 years. Avery, a lefty, hit over .300 as Surfside went 4-0 in Elite Power League play last weekend. She also passed better than a 2.2, tossed her body all over the court on defense, playing like the high-level soccer player she is; led the team in blocks and missed just one serve. “These girls bring a competitive fire to every match, practice and drill,” Chaffins said about the twins. “They are fun to watch and you can just feel their presence on the court due to their effort, skill and enthusiasm.”
RS: Makalani Carey, 5-9 Jr., Ka’ulukoa 17U Geno (HI) – Ka’ulukoa went 3-5 at Red Rock in the 17 USA division two weekends ago. The team was in every match, with all but two going to three sets. Carey had a terrific weekend, adding playing six rotations to her usual scoring and blocking at the net. Carey is a very dedicated player who travels to Oahu from Maui every weekend to play for the club.
OH: Emma Sorensen, 6-0 Soph., Dallas Premier 16 Black (TX) – Sorensen dominated her opponents in 16 USA at Red Rock Rave. She helped her squad, down two players, go 6-1 and tie for fifth out of 70 teams Emma was able to shine in every aspect, said Allison Camp. From the service line, she contributed five aces at a 77% KO rate. She led the team in serve receive rating AND attempts, passing a 2.2 on the weekend with 116 attempts. She hit .325 on the weekend with 54 kills and was lethal from the front row as well. She was second on the team in digs (only by 3) with 72 digs at an 82% dig rate, and had 5 solo blocks. “She was masterful in all six rotations and played the most complete tournament of the season though far!” Camp concluded.
OH: Ashby Zubchevich, 6-0 Soph., City 16 Gold (CA) – Zubchevich notched double-figure kills in every match at Red Rock in 16 USA two weekends ago. She led City to a 9-2 record and fourth-place finish. Her high game produced 20 kills and a team-high in aces versus Arizona Storm Elite 16 Lightning. “A high flyer and dominant swinger, Ashby touches 10-2 and loves to swing from all zones on the court,” said director Stef Wigfall.
OH: Addison Junk, 5-9 Fr., Surfside MB 15 Legends Tommy (CA) – Longtime Redondo Union head coach Tommy Chaffins, who coaches this team, calls the Junk twins among the top two percent in terms of athleticism that he has coached over the past 30 years. Addi hit over .300 as Surfside went 4-0 in Elite Power League play last weekend. She also passed better than a 2.2, tossed her body all over the court on defense, playing like the high-level soccer player she is; and scored the clinching kill in three of the four matches that produced a deuce game. “These girls bring a competitive fire to every match, practice and drill,” Chaffins said about the twins. “They are fun to watch and you can just feel their presence on the court due to their effort, skill and enthusiasm.”
OH: Grace Crider, 5-10 Soph., Elevation 16 Chicas (OH) – Crider led Elevation in kills, hitting percentage and aces this past weekend at MEQ. “She is a nonstop offensive engine who gives the team a secure swing in every attempt,” said coach Howard Garcia. “She has the ability to better every play she is involved in and make her team better. She has a positive attitude, is all about her team and always respectful and kind to others. On Saturday in Indy, Crider showed her true self with the score tied at 11-11 in Game 3 in the final pool play match to win the pool.
“She not only demanded the ball four straight times at the end of the match, she finished the play to win the match,” Garcia said.
MB/RS: Bailey Blair, 6-1 Soph., Adidas KiVA 16 Red (KY) – A fiery competitor, Blair brought her usual competitive energy to the floor, which helped KiVA overcome two losses to win 16 Open at MEQ.
Libero: Lexi Smith, 5-2 Sr., Legacy 18-1 Adidas (MI) – Smith played libero due to injury for the first time all year and was a vocal presence and the team digs leader for Legacy, which placed ninth in 18 Open at MEQ.
Libero: Noelle Nakagawa, 5-4 Jr., Ka’ulukoa 17U Geno (HI) – Ka’ulukoa went 3-5 at Red Rock in the 17 USA division two weekends ago. Nakagawa was instrumental to the team’s success. In her first year with the club, Nakagawa has quickly become instrumental to team chemistry. She also has great quickness and is increasing her range in serve-receive.