This is the inaugural edition of “Daily Dots,” a M-F look at 10 things in club or high school volleyball, past or present, that interest me and hopefully will interest you.
• My favorite all-time volleyball name is Airial Salvo. She was, appropriately, an outside hitter with a savage arm. Salvo graduated from high school 15 years ago and went on to a strong college career between the University of Utah and the University of Washington. At Viewmont HS in Bountiful, Utah, she won two state titles playing for her mom, Lori. Salvo also was twice named Gatorade Utah POY. Salvo played club volleyball for Kim Norman at High Country.
• A5 Volleyball Club, located in the Greater Atlanta Region, has had 37 college commitments/signees so far in the Class of 2021.
• A standard volleyball net has 1,000 holes! I counted. Actually, I didn’t, but my understanding is that each hole is 10×10 centimeters and the net is 10 holes high. If the width of the net is 10 meters or 100 holes, that makes 1,000 holes! VolleyballMag.com T-shirt to the first player who proves me wrong! (email me at email@example.com)
• I’ve always viewed President’s Day Weekend as the unofficial start to the club volleyball season. That may have changed in recent years but I always looked forward to those big travel tourneys that occurred the second weekend in February. Six stood out over the years:
Las Vegas Classic (aka “Vegas”)
SPVB President’s Day
Asics President’s Day (“Omaha”)
President’s Day Classic (“St. Louis”)
Capitol Hill Classic
Triple Crown NIT
Three of the “Big 6” have been postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Capitol Hill is moving from D .C. to Atlanta and will occur February 26-28. Vegas is now April 9-11. Triple Crown, which has become THE go-to tourney for elite teams in recent years, will now be held May 28-31. The other three are a “go” for this weekend.
• When I knew Alexis Lete, she was a middle blocker for New Albany HS in Indiana and KiVA. These days, people know her as the reigning Miss Indiana USA. I discovered this when she popped up on my FYP on TikTok (@lilete). Check out her page! You might discover that Lete, who went to George Washington University on a volleyball scholarship, was third runner up in the Miss USA pageant!
• Salvo, whom I referenced above, was responsible for one of the two greatest digs I ever witnessed live. Both occurred at the ASC in Anaheim. Salvo was playing in the SCVA qualifier for High Country and jump serving on Court 3. As she delivered the serve from the right, her momentum took her backwards away from the court. The serve was a dipper and required a lunge for it to be overpassed to HIC’s side. The ball flew into no man’s land middle left, about as far away from Salvo as it could be. Salvo sprinted headlong towards the ball and went superman! She got the back of her fist on the ball just before it hit the ground and was able to keep it in play. I remember rushing to my computer when it happened to tell the world that I’d just seen the best dig I would ever see!
The second jaw-dropping dig I witnessed at ASC came in May, 2009, at an SCVA Mandatory tournament. Kyle Gilbert (she preferred to be called “MacKenzie” back then) was playing libero for Wave when a ball appeared ticketed for Wave’s bench without any upper body parts to prevent it from finding the floor. In an act of desperation, Gilbert gave the ball a roundhouse kick while avoiding foot contact with any teammates sitting on the bench. The ball went soaring 40 feet, at least, into the air, through the ceiling’s lattice work and perfectly to the middle of the other side of the court.
“I used to play soccer,” said Gilbert. “It used to be my sport.”
Gilbert went on to star for four years in the Stanford University back court.
• For those just getting to know me, I have been covering girls’ volleyball nationally since 2000, when I was managing editor at Student Sports Magazine. In January, 2003, I founded PrepVolleyball.com and ran volleyball operations at Prep through March, 2020. I have been married to my wife, Lisa, for 25 years and together we have three sons. Tim is a redshirt junior at Stanford and plays on the baseball team. Casey is a freshman at Rice and is a wide receiver on the football team. Jordy is a high school junior in West Linn, Oregon, and plays football and baseball. He also wrestles and has already twice qualified for the state tournament.
• I have been to a lot of state HS tournaments over my career. My very first was in 2000 in California, where the banner matchup was in Division I: St. Mary’s of Stockton versus Bonita Vista from Chula Vista. Bonita Vista won the side-out affair in five grueling sets on the right arm of senior Jennifer Saleaumua, who recorded 57 kills in that match, a national record in a state final!
• Mya Larson, the Montana State recruit who had 41 kills this past fall when Wahoo HS captured the Nebraska C-1 title, is playing club for VCNebraska 18-Elite. Coached by Dan Mader, 18-Elite boasts two Nebraska Cornhusker recruits, OH Whitney Lauenstein and MB Becca Allick; as well as USC-bound setter Elle Glock. This may well be one of the top 18s teams in the country.
• I’ve been to all the national qualifiers except for the relatively new Windy City in Chicago and the Sunshine Volleyball Classic in Orlando. Besides watching and writing about volleyball, my other favorite pastime when I go is eating.
In Denver (Crossroads), I always look forward to a greasy slice or a sausage sub at Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta on 15th street. In Dallas (Lone Star), I look forward every time to the cornflake crusted red snapper at Rj Mexican Cuisine in the West End. OMG! On-site, the best food has to be at Big South in Atlanta. It was even better a decade ago, when there were local vendors on the main convention center floor selling everything from soup to nuts.