Each week during the club season, VolleyballMag.com 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
This week, with 18s Junior Nationals colliding with a final national qualifier for the younger high school ages and several other events, as well as nominees from last week, when we had no Dream Team; we’ve doubled our Dream Team to 16, while still including other nominees in our honorable-mention category.
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 May 3
S: Ava Martin, 5-9 junior, Pohaku 17-1 (KS) — Pohaku used Martin’s intensity, ability and determination to secure an Open bid at Far Westerns this weekend. “She is the perfect setting fit for this team,” noted coach Conan Salanoa. “She has been consistently great in her location and decision making this season. That was no different than this weekend in Reno. However she added phenomenal defense and blocking to help lead us to the 17 Open finals and the bid we have been chasing all season. Her fire and passion were contagious on Day 3 for us.”
S: Shanelle Puetz, 5-10 graduate, WAVE 18-Juliana (CA) — Puetz took heat for delaying college enrollment one year, but she had something to prove. She showed the country that she could run an elite volleyball team at a very high level and took WAVE to a national title. “She had the tournament of her career,” said coach Juliana Conn. “Now she’s going into college as a national champion.”
S/RS: Madi Maxwell, 6-1 junior, Legacy Girls 18 Elite (CA) — Maxwell was named MVP of the 18 Liberty division after leading Legacy Girls to the championship in that division. Maxwell played exceptionally in every role, said Walt Ker, the club’s director.
RS: Grace Heaney, 6-2 senior, Premier Nebraska 18 Gold (NE) — A physical lefty committed to Purdue, Heaney was the go-to hitter on a shorthanded team and took Premier all the way to the 18 Open final.
RS: Kendall Hopewell, 6-1 junior, FaR Out 18 Black (MI) — Hopewell had the championship clinching kill in 18 Open at Emperor’s Cup and many other prodigious blasts from the right. She also was a blocking force, frustrating opponents’ best attackers time and again.
OH: Julia Blyashov, 6-3 senior, WAVE 18-Juliana (CA) — Battling a shoulder injury all club season. Blyashov was healthy enough to play high-level ball for three days and it paid off in an 18 Open national championship for WAVE. Blyashov, who is good passing in the back row as she is showing off her fast ball and off-speed shots in the front, was named tournament MVP.
OH: Brooklyn DeLeye, 6-2 senior, Topeka Impact 18-1 (KS) — Impact coach Mark Evans gushed about DeLeye’s performance in the 18 USA division at Junior Nationals. He called the Kentucky signee the best player he’s seen in the Kansas/Missouri area in 23 years and said that she was the reason the Topeka club is carrying around the hardware today.
OH: Ellie Pate, 5-10 senior, Bama Elite 18 Renegades (AL) — An East Carolina recruit, Pate was the brightest star this past weekend at Emperor’s Cup in Las Vegas. Thunderous attacks and defensive intensity sparked her club past Munciana Samurai in the Open semifinals and her team came within a eyelash of winning it all.
OH: Lucy Chertock, 6-1 sophomore, NorCal 16 Black (CA) — Chertock was the backbone of NorCal’s offense in its run to a third-place finish in 16 Open at Far Westerns, which secured a bid. With 94 kills on 210 swings, she was a threat in every rotation offensively, while still locking down in serve receive and defense. What a force she was!
OH: Jenna Otts, 6-1 senior, JJVA 18 Teal (FL) — Otts was a punishing attacker who helped 18 Teal to second place in the 18 Freedom division at 18s Junior Nationals. Otts averaged 4.6 kills per set in Columbus while hitting a blistering .432. She added 10 aces, 29 digs and 5 blocks. Otts has been the standard bearer all season for this team, leading in kills with 351 while hitting .288.
MB: Ava Anderson, 6-2 junior, KC Power 18-1 (KS) — Anderson has played up all season. Her improvement this season has been significant and she played some of her very best volleyball in Columbus as a starting middle for the 18 National national champs. Said club director Danielle Stowell: “She transitions effectively and can move the ball around well with a high contact point. She is long and quick so her lateral movement is efficient and she makes closing blocks look easy. She was instrumental in helping balance out our offense and giving our defense an advantage to set up around well-formed blocks. She is definitely an up and comer and will be a tremendous middle at the next level.”
MB: Kate Mansfield, 6-2 junior, Madfrog 17s National Green (TX) — Mansfield hit .357 on the weekend as Madfrog secured its bid with a third-place finish in 17 Open at Far Westerns. “Kate is quick laterally and runs a slide flawlessly,” said coach Shelly Tucker. “She brings a lot of energy to the court and expects to get the ball. She is our serving middle and walks away from each match with 2-3 aces and plays defense well.”
MB: Katherine Rank, 6-3 senior, Colorado Juniors 18Bri (CO) — Rank blocked a ton and scored a ton to help CJ win the 18 National division convincingly at Emperor’s Cup in Las Vegas.
MB: Kennedy Arp, 6-1 senior, FaR Out 18 Black (MI) — Arp was my pick for 18 Open MVP at Emperor’s Cup in Las Vegas over the weekend. She played four rotations and was as instrumental on serve as she was putting up a big block and scoring on slides all tournament long. Arp has signed with Valparaiso.
Libero: Carley Piercefield, 5-4 junior, Far Out 18 Black (MI) — Piercefield was steady as she goes in the back row for the 18 Open champs at Emperor’s Cup. She made all the routine plays and almost all of the hard ones as well as the foundation for first contact offense and rally extender.
Libero: Sam Unteidt, 5-8 juniors, Kairos Elite 18 Alpha (SD) — Unteidt played out of her mind all weekend to Kairos picked up a Bronze medal in 18 National. She has committed to South Dakota State.
Also considered (by position, in order of consideration):
S: Madi Collins, 5-6 junior, Surfside 18 PV Legends (CA) — A gritty competitor committed to UCSB, Collins was the only setter to go to 18s Junior Nationals with her team and, according to coach Danko Iordanov, handled running a 5-1 offense “with composure and consistency, making good decisions and setting her hitters up for success.” She also was terrific on serve. In one stretch on Day 2, she scored 13 straight points for her team, including six aces.
S: Sophia Wilson, 5-8 junior, Madfrog 17’s National Green (TX) — Wilson led the Frogs to qualifying this past weekend at Far Westerns in Reno. “Sophia is quick and spreads her offense deceivingly,” said coach Shelly Tucker. “She has a very aggressive serve that gets most teams out of system.”
S/RS: Aleena Zuniga, 5-7 freshman, Valley Venom 15 (TX) — Zuniga led her team to fourth place in 15 American at Lone Star in April. Over 11 matches totaling 25 sets, she amassed 69 assists, 85 kills, 91 digs and seven aces.
S: Ryan Murphy, 6-3 sophomore, JJVA 16 Teal (FL) — A rising star who always makes her team better, Murphy led her team to a Freedom Division bid this past weekend at the Asics Florida Volleyball Challenge. Murphy averaged 10 assists per set over 14 sets and added 10 aces, 11 blocks and 14 kills.
RS: Ella Johns, 6-0 senior, JJVA 18 Teal (FL) — A late bloomer who found her niche on the right this year, Johns helped 18 Teal to an 8-1 record and second place in 18 Freedom this past weekend at Junior Nationals. She finished with 46 kills, hitting .448, and added 12 blocks in a performance that earned her All-Tournament recognition.
OH: Sydney Nolan, 6-3 senior, NKYVC 18-1 Tsunami (KY) — A game changer, Nolan was a force all weekend for 18 Tsunami, which finished ninth in the 18 National division at Junior Nationals. She was a go to hitter and carried a heavy load for the offense. “She terminated when we needed it and she scored at will between her aggressive swings and off speed shots,” noted director Jill Hunt. “She was also a big block this weekend, affecting the other team’s ability to swing as they would like.”
OH: Josie Imes, 5-10 freshman, Circle City 15 Purple (IN) — Circle City played in the CanAm tournament despite playing with only seven players. Nonetheless, it managed a second-place finish in the 16 Open division, going 6-1 on the weekend with a lone loss to Legacy 15-1 Adidas. Imes has always played six rotations on this team but this weekend she stepped up in a major way with two other hitters absent. She led her team in kills and aces, passed a 2.2 and hit over. 250. “Josie is a high flying, heavy hitting pin who also passes in all 6 serve-receives and was often the target from other teams when serving,” noted coach Jenna Tadros. “This weekend she showed she is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
OH: Kennedy Wagner, 6-1 senior, 1st Alliance 18 Gold (IL) — A Clemson signee, Wagner led 18 Gold to a 7-1 finish this past weekend in 18 Open at Junior Nationals. The 6-rotation OH led the team in kills (4 KPS), Aces (.8 APS) and hit .268 on the weekend. “Kennedy was not only a force on offense, but she played some of her best defense of the season as well,” noted coach Meghan Keck.
OH: Kendal Murphy, 6-3 senior, AZ Revolution 18 Premier (AZ) — Murphy made the 18 Open All-Tournament team after helping Revolution to a Bronze Medal finish in Columbus. Murphy hit almost .250 for the weekend with 14 aces. She hit .462 on Day 1 to help her team knock off the eventual national champions, the only squad to do so.
OH: Lainee Pyles, 6-2 junior, Madfrog 17’s National Green (TX) — Pyles was a factor in all six rotations as Madfrog secured a 17 Open to Junior Nationals at Far Western in Reno. She passed a 2.0 and hit .275, but had several matches where every swing hit the floor. She’s the kind of player whose court presence matches her ability.
OH: Kamryn Gibaldo, 6-2 senior, AZ Revolution 18 Premier (AZ) — Gibaldo made the 18 Open All-Tournament team after helping Revolution to a Bronze Medal finish in Columbus. The Utah recruit hit .378 for the weekend.
OH: Ashley Borecki, 5-8 junior, New England Shock 16 Flash (CT) — Part of a new team that struggled to start the year. Last weekend, however, at the New England AAU Championships, the team owned the court and didn’t drop so much as a set until the finals of 16 Flash’s division. Borecki was front and center, hitting almost .300 over six matches with 30 digs. “She turned into the leader I knew she could be,” said Robin Lamont Sparks. “Her demeanor, competitiveness and drive helped the group turn it around. Watching them play this weekend was so incredibly rewarding. Will we win a national championship? Hardly. But, to see a young woman who had her confidence completely shaken when she walked into a gym just own the court was something truly special.”
OH: Jorja Walker, 5-8 senior, Maunalani 18-Albert (HI) — Walker lead her club to second place in the 18 Club division at Emperor’s Cup in Las Vegas. Probably the most competitive player in the gym, she wowed with her thunderous attacks and was the go-to in all situations for her squad.
OH: Mari King, 5-11 sophomore, Jacksonville Skyline 16 Royal (FL) King led her team to a second- place finish and 16 National bid at the Florida Region Championships this past weekend. In the semifinal that got 16 Royal the National bid, she had 18 kills and hit .464 in a two-set win. She ended up hitting .282 on the final day with 47 kills over seven sets.
OH: Evan Hendrix, 5-9 junior, AZ Revolution 18 Premier (AZ) — Hendrix, a TCU recruit, was a standout for a Revolution team that defeated eventual 18 Open national champion WAVE 18-Juliana on Day 1 and came within a hair of a finals rematch before losing a nail biter in the semis. Hendrix passed a 2.26 for the weekend and was a big time scoring option on the left all tournament long for her team.
OH: Nadia Ewton, 6-0 sophomore, JJVA 16 Teal (FL) — Drive to win a bid this past weekend at the Asics Florida Volleyball Challenge, Ewton went off! She pounded down 47 kills, (3.35 kills per set) and had a blistering 17 aces (1.21 aces per set). “Nadia was poised, present and dominating,” said CJ Sherman. “She was a true force helping JJVA 16 Teal earn its bid.”
OH: Avery Stones, 6-1 sophomore, Club ONE AZ 16 Platinum (AZ) — Club ONE placed 11th in 16 Open this past weekend at Far Westerns. Stones, a high school middle, finished the tournament with 60 kills (hitting .211) and 61 digs while passing a 2.0 in serve receive.
OH: Carson Carraway, 6-2 eighth grade, Infinity 15 Open (MS) — Carraway was a masher in helping IVBA win the Southaven Club Clash. She was named to the All-Tournament team and is a player to watch as she enters her high school years.
OH: Ahleejah Sunia, 5-7 junior, Ka Ulukoa 17 Kahala (HI) — Sunia was her team’s most effective attacker at the JVA World Challenge, where Ka Ulukoa lost just once and captured the Copper bracket in 17 Open. “Whether it’s tooling off the block, hitting down the line or roll shots to keep the defense honest, she finds a way,” said club director Lee Lamb. “She also has the attitude of a libero and would run through a wall to make a play and held it down with some amazing plays and top notch back row play throughout the 3-day tourney.”
OH: Jalynn Brown, 6-1 senior, JJVA 18 Teal (FL) — A South Florida signee, Brown showed she is ready to impact at the next level with a strong performance at 18s Junior Nationals. Brown finished with 54 kills, while hitting .310; 33 digs and five blocks. Her good work helped JJVA place second in the 18 Freedom division.
MB: Anna Williams, 6-1 sophomore, Aspire 15 Premier (AZ) — Williams was the best blocker in 15 Open at Far Westerns this past weekend and played in every set, hitting .389, to lead her shorthanded team to a ninth place finish overall.
MB: Kaitlyn Grant, 5-10 senior, Bama Elite 18 Renegades (AL) — Faster than fast, both laterally and vertically, Grant delivered huge kills and blocks all weekend for Bama Elite, which finished second in 18 Open at Emperor’s Cup.
MB: Molly Fitzpatrick, 5-10 freshman, JJVA 15 Teal (FL) — Fitzpatrick was instrumental in helping JJVA 15 Teal better its bid at the Asics Florida Volleyball Challenge this past weekend. The team posted a 7-2 record, with Fitzpatrick pounding some kills to the back corners off slides, 31’s and 1’s. She is mobile and quick in the middle. “Many times outsized by her opponent, she plays BIG and makes a huge contribution to her team,” said CJ Sherman. “A serving middle, Fitzpatrick posted 12 aces for the weekend. She also leads her team in hitting percentage at .422 and takes advantage of a fast arm swing and movement skills to be productive on attack.
Libero: Katie Thornton, 5-6 freshman, Infinity 15 Open (MS) — Lights out defense led to Thornton being named tournament MVP at the Southaven Club Clash.
Libero: Kyra Pagud, 5-5 senior, Ka Ulukoa 17 Kahala (HI) — Exceptional serve receive (2.2 rating) and stupendous digs, including multiple, multiple digs in same rally situations, helped Ka Ulukoa go 7-1 in 17 Open at the JVA World Challenge.
Libero: Alyx Daugherty, 5-5 sophomore, Club ONE AZ 16 Platinum (AZ) — Club ONE placed 11th in 16 Open this past weekend at Far Westerns. Daugherty finished the tournament with 86 digs (5.73 per set). She also passed a 2.0, compiled 14 assists and was the team’s vocal leader on defense.
DS: Alexis Sowers, 5-4 freshman, JJVA 15 Teal (FL) — Sowers, a lefty, came off the bench to serve the final point in a division-winning scenario at the Asics Florida Volleyball Challenge in Orlando. “If she isn’t in the Libero jersey she is a DS who comes in and can always hit her serve, where you want it,” noted CJ Sherman. “Alexis is fast, has excellent range and helped her team in the back row passing a 2.2 this weekend. She was wiping up the court digging, running down balls in the middle back sideline to sideline, making saves and protecting the floor.”
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