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Girls Dream Team of the Week: VanDeusen, Smallwood, Bullington, Knigga, Adamec, Gates, Rusich, Warren

Each week during the club season, recognizes 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 includes three outsides and three middles, since we received no right side or 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. DREAM TEAM for April 19
S: Mollie VanDeusen, 6-0 eighth grader, JJVA 15 Teal (FL) — VanDeusen amassed 240 assists (10.9 assists per set), 10 blocks and 14 aces for 15 Teal, which went 9-1 in 15 USA to earn a bid at Lone Star in Dallas.

Mollie VanDuesen

She played with grit and was instrumental to JJVA’s victories over three previously-qualified teams in the Florida team’s first USA competition this season.

Jessica Smallwood

OH: Jessica Smallwood, 6-5 freshman, EVA 15 Blue (KY) – One of the best “unknown” players in the freshman class, Smallwood amassed 96 kills and 27 blocks to help Elizabethtown Volleyball Academy to a third place finish in 15 Premier at the JVA World Challenge. The six-rotation standout is a great leader and better teammate who can hit and block from all positions along the net and is consistent in serve receive. Coach Bart Catlett asserted that Smallwood was arguably the most dominant all-around player in 15 Premier this past weekend.

OH: Bella Bullington, 6-3 sophomore, SPVB 16 Elite (IL) – Bullington was the hammer Sports Performance needed to capture the 16 Open division at the JVA World Challenge this past weekend. She led her team with 70 kills while hitting .372 from the left side, and also topped the squad with 14 aces.

Natalie Knigga

OH: Natalie Knigga, 5-8 sophomore, NKYVC 16 Tide (KY) – A six-rotation outside, Knigga led her team to a ninth-place finish in 16 USA at the Northeast Qualifier on Sunday. She was the team kill leader in all seven matches, six of which 16 Tide won. “Natalie is one of the most athletic and versatile outsides in the gym,” noted coach Alexis Mitchell, “and is always our go-to in a critical moment. When in system Natalie has one of the most powerful swings in the gym, and out of system is great at scanning the court for an open off speed shot. As a six-rotation outside she is heavily involved in just about every play, and led our team in passing percentage this weekend averaging a 2.2. Natalie is definitely a standout player amongst her competition!”

Kalie Adamec

MB: Kali Adamec, 6-1 freshman, Invasion 15-Black (MO) – Adamec had a standout weekend for 9-1 Invasion, which placed third in 15 Liberty at Lone Star. The freshman hit almost .500 for the tournament, with 70 kills over 23 sets. She also had 11 aces and 17 blocks. “Kali carried us through many important points throughout the tournament and she is able to light a fire under our team to get them motivated to succeed,” said coach Travis Dalton.

Skyler Gates

MB: Skyler Gates, 6-3 freshman, Morgantown 16-1 (WV) – MVC tied for third in the 126-team 16 American division at NEQ. Gates, playing up a year, was integral to the cause, amassing 18 solo stuffs and hitting first tempo sets to the tune of .333 in front of and behind the setter. This is a young and budding middle not afraid to go all out.

MB: Daniela Rusich, 5-11 junior, Surfside 16 PV Legends (CA) – Surfside won 16 Open at NEQ with great help from Rusich, a smaller middle who led the team in scoring by showing off her incredible speed at the net.

Libero: Aniya Warren, 5-8 sophomore, 1st Alliance 16 Gold (IL) – National No. 1 1st Alliance trekked to Texas and won 16 Open at Lone Star last weekend. Warren was a steady force and controlled the backcourt all weekend against some of the toughest competition. She passed a qualifier best of 2.38 and tallied 88 digs over 10 matches. “She had some incredible saves that were momentum changers on Day 3,” said coach Trish Samolinski. “Most impressive was her ability to read and dig some heavy hits all while keeping us in system so our offense could capitalize. Aniya’s calmness and confidence controlling the defense were instrumental to our success and tournament win.”

Aniya Warren

Also considered (by position, in order of consideration):
S: Hannah Kenny, 5-7 sophomore, 1st Alliance 16 Gold (IL) – One of two setters for the No. 1 16s team in the nation, Kenny showed off her all-around game this weekend in Dallas, leading 1st Alliance to the 16 Open title. She led the team in assists with 164 and was tremendous serving and looking for her offense on championship Sunday. “Her speed, tempo and volleyball IQ constantly put our hitters in great positions to score,” noted coach Trish Samolinski. “In addition she is a fearless and relentless defender, and she led our team in serving attempts on the weekend with 105. She was laser focused all weekend and kept our team in rhythm to win the championship.”

S: Lauren Ott, 5-9 sophomore, NKYVC 16 Tide (KY) – Ott guided 16 Tide to a 6-1 record and T-9 in 16 USA at the Northeast Qualifier this past weekend in Philly. Said coach Alexis Mitchell: “As our 5-1 setter, Lauren controlled the energy, momentum, and overall pace of the game for our team all weekend, and did so perfectly! Lauren is great at distributing the ball to give our hitters a 1-on-1 opportunity, and is aggressive when attacking herself! Lauren’s serving gave every team trouble, and kept teams out of system more times than not! As a setter she plays great defense, and she averaged about 4 digs per set. Lauren’s energy, volleyball IQ and grit make her one of the best setters in the gym.”

S/RS: Sophie Baldwin, 5-9 sophomore, JJVA 17 Teal (FL) – Baldwin usually sets 16 Black but filled in this past weekend for 17 Teal at Lone Star in Dallas. Baldwin proved to be very comfortable in this setting and helped her team finish 21st in a field of 135 in the 17 American division. Baldwin demonstrated her versatility by amassing 119 assists, 33 digs, 19 kills and 12 aces for the weekend.


OH: Sydney Bryant, 6-4 sophomore, HJV 16 Elite (TX) – Bryant tallied 70 kills for HJV this past weekend at Lone Star and helped HJV place third to earn its Open bid. “Sidney Bryant was a big part of ur success this weekend,” said coach Tara Cross-Battle. “She was an offensive force for HJV 16 Elite and helped us earn a bronze medal.”

OH: Myleigh Smell, 5-9 sophomore, Morgantown 16-1 (WV) – Smell’s six-rotation effort at NEQ netted 66 kills, 66 digs, 16 aces and a 2.04 passing rating for MVC, which went 9-1 to take third in 16 American. “With a heavy hitting arm and fast tempo from both the outside and the back row, teams couldn’t put a stop to her attack,” said coach Heidi Lee.

OH: Sofia Muino, 5-9 freshman, JJVA 15 Teal (FL) – Powerful attacking on either pin, Munio averaged 3.4 kills per set and was relentless defensively for 15 Teal, which shined in 15 USA at the Lone Star Classic.

OH: Sarahbelle Jameson, 6-1 sophomore, JJVA 15 Teal (FL) – Jameson punished her opponents this past weekend in 15 USA at Lone Star with 61 kills and a .245 hitting percentage. She added 13 blocks, too, as 15 Teal secured a USA bid. “Sarahbelle has risen to the challenge of competing with the best,” said recruiting coordinator CJ Sherman. “She is an amazing teammate and always encouraging others!”


MB: Jordan Taylor, 6-6 sophomore, Houston Juniors 16 Elite (TX) – A Dream Teamer last week, where her team fell just short of a bid at Windy City, Taylor was particularly beast-like this weekend at Lone Star. She ended up hitting .440, with 54 kills, and created havoc at the net with 25 blocks as HJV placed third and earned its trip to Junior Nationals.

MB: Morgan Holloman, 6-1 freshman, Colorado Juniors 15Sherri (CO) – Always a standout for her team, Hollomon finished the weekend at the SLC Showdown with 16 blocks, just one shy of a block per set average. She also hit .370 and proved unstoppable on the slide, whether run on first contact, free balls or defensive transition. The team went 6-2 in 15 Open, which probably wouldn’t have happened without Holloman’s contributions.

MB: Teagan Beuhler, 5-9 freshman, Colorado Juniors 15Sherri (CO) –  Beuhler hit .410 this weekend in 15 Open at the Salt Lake City Showdown and was a key reason Juniors went 6-2. “This kid has worked so hard to not let her lack of size determine her worth to the team,” said coach Sherri Hawkins. “She is lethal on her 3’s and transitions so well; so she is always an option for our setter, Tatelyn Brandsma.”

MB: Lauren Benson, 5-11 senior, Fusion 18 Apex (IL) – Fusion tied for 17th in 18 Open at the JVA World Challenge, with Benson the team’s standout player. She hit .418 for the weekend, with 35 kills, and added 12 blocks. She was at her best versus top squads like Adidas KiVA 18 Red and A5 18-Marc.


Libero: Ryan McAleer, 5-5 junior, Dynasty 17 Black (KS) – McAleer, a Purdue recruit, was chiefly responsible for improved defense and passing this weekend, which helped Dynasty over the hump to a qualifier title in Dallas.

Libero: Olivia Foye, 5-7 sophomore, Surfside 16 PV Legends (CA) — Foye was outstanding and commanding in the libero position for NEQ 16 Open champion Surfside this past weekend. A high school attacker, she is quickly becoming an elite recruiting target in the libero position.

Libero: Avery Reed, 5-5 sophomore, , Morgantown 16-1 (WV) – Morgantown went 9-1 in 16 American this past weekend at NEQ and tied for third out of 126 teams. Reed was instrumental to team success, passing half the court in serve-receive with a 2.0 average for the tournament. She also had 72 digs and 11 assists. Reed runs the back row calmly and confidently and has the trust and respect of her teammates.

Libero: Isabella Taveras Seda, 5-5 freshman, JJVA 15 Teal (FL) – “Bella” had 134 digs and passed a 2.13 for 15 Teal, keeping the Florida in system for nine victories en route to qualifying in 15 USA at Lone Star. Seda also added 20 aces, almost one per set!

Libero: Ava Johnson, 5-7 freshman, Colorado Juniors 15Sherri (CO) — Johnson was a major factor in team success this past weekend in Salt Lake City. She passed a 2.1 and came up with 58 digs over the tournament. “She could be seen chasing balls down, keeping balls off the floor after a hitter got blocked, and frustrating hitters as she kept them from scoring with their thunderous swings!” noted coach Sherri Hawkins. “Ava is always the calming factor on the court and was also a huge reason our team was finally able to overcome adversity and find a way to win close matches.” The team went 6-2, finishing 7th, and beat a couple of teams with Open bids.