Bay to Bay rolled out of the recent No Dinx/NCVA Boys Far Western bid tournament at the San Mateo Event Center with plenty to be happy about.
The club, based in San Jose, California, brought home four first-place finishes and a runner-up finish in the Open divisions there.
Bay to Bay club director Arielle Houlihan noted that during a recent two-week stretch the club earned five Open bids and three USA bids between the SCVA Boys Junior Invitational and Far Western.
“It’s a true testament to the hard work our coaches and athletes have put in over the past months,” said Houlihan, who noted five more Bay to Bay teams will be in Chicago this weekend at the Boys Winter Championships. “As a club we try to do our best to give our kids an opportunity to play as much volleyball as possible. We couldn’t be happier with the results from (Far Western) and look forward to carrying it into our next tournaments.”
Bay to Bay 18-1s coach Steve Seigmann noted the 18 Open division in San Mateo was a fight to the finish. “The finals were interesting to say the least,” he said. “The 18s division was the only Open division at this tournament where there was no trickle-down bid because none of the 18s earned one at SCVA the weekend before. It was the only division where you had to not only get to the finals, but win the finals to get the bid.”
Bay to Bay, which ran the table in San Mateo, downed NCVC 18-1 to win the title and bid. “It was the last match going on in the event center and a bunch of Bay to Bay players stuck around after they were finished to watch and support our team,” Seigmann said. “NCVC played the best volleyball I have seen them play all year, so hats off to (coach) Jason (Johnson) and his team in a close three-set match. We are very proud of our efforts going undefeated. We look forward to what is next.”
Bay to Bay was led by the likes of Freddy Batiratu (6-5, RS), Austin Buchanan (6-8, S), Connor Dahm (6-5, OH, UC Irvine commit), and Dylan Zhai (6-1, S). Buchanan is headed to Hawaii, while Wallace and Zhai are UC Irvine commits.
“We have a lot of new guys this year, so from Day 1 we have focused on getting to know how to play with each other and improving as a team so that we could be playing our best ball in January,” Seigmann said. “The boys really bought into this and worked extremely hard to support each other through the ups and downs of Power League. We let them handle most of the timeouts by themselves because we talked about them taking ownership over their results. It was that focus on ownership that I think has allowed us to play our best over the last two qualifiers and earn our Open bid.
“I’m excited to see us continue to improve. We are a very good defensive team and now that we are more used to playing with each other, it’s really making a difference. We have all the tools we need to be successful, but we need to focus on scoring from the middle a little more and on putting more pressure on teams from the service line while balancing the need to limit errors from there.”
NCVC 18-1 update: Johnson’s NCVC squad went 4-2 at Far Western, with the two losses both coming to Bay to Bay. NCVC, based in Meadow Vista, California, in the Sacramento Valley, is 33-13 on the season.
Outside hitter Preston Nowak hit .350 in the tournament and passed at a 2.30 clip (on a 3.0 scale). “Preston is our team’s tough-as-nails team leader,” Johnson noted.
Middle Jacob Diddy hit .548 and had 12 blocks, while outside Artiom Yalanji hit .286, had 11 digs, and eight service aces. On the college commitment front, Logan Marks is headed to Cal Lutheran, while Christian Newman will play next year at Vanguard.
“The championship match was a gritty, well-fought battle,” Johnson noted. “Our goals were to serve tough, attack their right-back defense, and run more sets through the middle of the court to make their large block have to move a bit. Each point we did a great job giving it our all on the court, second effort, and always going back to work regardless of how each point was scored. We are proud of how the team competed.”
Johnson was especially impressed with his team’s effort against MVVC. “That was a key moment in the tournament,” he said. “It was a comeback win. After MVVC targeted our outside hitter early in the match and broke him down a bit and won the first set 25-13, Artiom reset himself and found a new level of confidence and determination. His serve gave MVVC fits, leading to a 15-4 win in the third set.”
Johnson noted this was his squad’s last qualifier event. NCVC will reconvene in May after the high school season. Johnson said the squad will apply for an at-large bid for junior nationals in Reno.
Pacific Rim U17 update: Pac Rim U17 won the 17 Open crown in San Mateo, besting Bay to Bay 17-1 in the finale. The Pleasant Hill, California, squad went 5-1 at Far Western and ended the first part of its season 48-5.
Coach Roger Worsley noted scouting, game-plan adherence, and some lineup changes were keys to success in the tournament.
Worsley lauded the play of sophomore Josh Ewert and junior Austin Kinnear in the championship match. “But truth be told, the entire team played to their potential,” he said. “Junior Benett Florentin took on a new role and made his back-row defense presence known throughout the weekend.”
Setter Donovan Constable has been another key. “We really have benefitted from the addition of Donovan in the setting role,” Worsley said. “He gives us a strong athletic presence.”
Worsley said his staff had Bay to Bay scouted well. “We lost to them in a tight three-set match in pool play the day before, but we were not disheveled by the loss,” he said. “We were confident we were capable of executing just a little better, and that execution would give us the edge when it counted. Our play was pretty much consistent throughout the weekend, so our level of play was anticipated.”
Pacific Rim heads goes on hiatus for the high school season before returning for the SCVA Boys West Coast Championships in June. “If we are able to fill a couple of our roster needs, we will be a medal contender at junior nationals,” Worsley said. “If we don’t fill those spots, then we will do OK.”
Bay to Bay 17-1s update: Coach Matt Houlihan’s Bay to Bay 17-1s team previously earned its bid with a third-place showing at the SCVA Junior Boys Invitational. At Far Western, it went undefeated in pool play before losing to Pac Rim in the 17 Open final.
“Far Westerns was a great tournament for us,” he said. “Being the only team competing with an Open bid already, we were able to focus on some different things and work on being a great team unit throughout the six matches we played. I am very proud of the way my team has responded to adversity throughout the course of this fall and feel as though we have a very high ceiling of where we can go.”
Houlihan noted the 17 Open final was his team’s sixth meeting with Pac Rim this season. “They are a very strong pin-to-pin offense,” he said. “They did a nice job getting us off the net in serve receive and playing disciplined defense against our out-of-system offense.”
Luke McFall (6-8, OH/MB), Ryan Collins (5-9, L), and Markus Olsson (6-7, MB) were standouts for Bay to Bay in San Mateo.
“Our team needs to stay uncomfortable,” Houlihan said. “Our guys have worked so hard to get to where they are at, and the simple fact is we are not where we want to be as of right now. We head to Chicago this weekend to keep progressing at a high level.”
Bay to Bay 16-1s update: After earning its Open bid the previous weekend in Anaheim, Bay to Bay 16-1s followed that up by winning the Far Western 16 Open title with a win over MVVC Red 16 in the title match.
“We passed well all weekend, so that certainly made things easier,” coach Chad Gordon said. “We got a great team effort from the whole crew, and overall everyone did their individual jobs really well.”
The finale was the third meeting between Bay to Bay and MVVC in the last two weekends. “They are certainly a handful when you look at their ability to slow you down with the block and then come at you with firepower in transition,” Houlihan said. “In the championship match we tried to stay the aggressor, fix problems on the fly, and continue to do our individual jobs. And when we have done all that, we had nice stretches of volley.”
Outside hitters Theo Snoey (6-8) and Ryan Duross (6-4), along with 6-5 opposite Moses Wagner were key for Bay to Bay.
“We’re in Chicago this weekend looking to continue to master the easy stuff that we have control over while adding a wrinkle to our offense or blocking schemes, and ultimately to learn more about ourselves while competing against some of the best in the Midwest.”
MVVC Red 16 update: A 5-1 showing at Far Western bumped coach Will Yuen’s MVVC Red 16 squad to 55-5 on the season.
“Serving and passing were staples that helped us,” Yuen said.
Patrick Kane led the way for the team from Sunnyvale, California, with 50 kills and 10 service aces in the tournament. “Patrick Kane is extremely physical and talented,” Yuen said. “He has a great motor and is consistent both physically and mentally.”
Yuen also liked how Andy Xu and Nick Hersh competed. “Andy has stepped up in the absence of one of our 6-6 middles,” he explained. “He is a bit undersized but has an unmatched work ethic. Nick is 6-8 and a daunting presence at the net.”
Yuen labeled the championship match as “somewhat lopsided.” “We didn’t perform well in the first set,” he said. “The second set presented new matchups and they worked out in our favor. The third set was back and forth volleyball, and we ended up in a tough spot we couldn’t work through. We have to continue to value the small things we do and recognize how they are critical to our success.”
MVVC will play in the SCVA West Coast event in June ahead of junior nationals in Reno.
Bay to Bay 15-1s update: Bay to Bay won the junior national title in Dallas last summer at 14 Open, and now as a 15s team it competed this season in the 16s NCVA Power League, earned its Open bid at the SCVA Junior Boys Invitational two weeks ago, and then went unbeaten at Far Western, despite playing without outside hitter Jack Ebertin.
“We suffered from a variety of team injuries at Far Westerns,” coach Matthew Frankenstein said. “As a result, many players had to play positions outside their comfort zone. Ultimately, our players’ dedication to their team and their trust and confidence in each other to perform at a high level led to a successful showing.”
Frankenstein cited key play from 6-4 outside hitter Nate Clinton, 5-8 libero Owen Smith, and 6-0 outside hitter Kevin Zhu. “We are known for our calm and collected mental state during intense matches,” he said. “Our favorable outcome in the championship match is directly correlated with our ability to rally during moments of success and quickly reset when errors occur. The team is stable and forward-thinking. Our future success is dependent on our ability to plan for the long-term, tackle obstacles head-on, and put ourselves in uncomfortable and challenging situations with the belief we can overcome them and rise to achieve our definition of greatness.”
TVA Addix 15 update: Triumph Volleyball Academy of Madera, California, went 5-1 at Far Western, losing to Bay to Bay in the 15 Open final.
“Our success was a result of hard work, effort, motivation, and determination, love of the game, love of God, and love of each other as teammates,” coach Butch Moua said. “Our goal was to maintain continuous improvement as players and teammates from day to day, game to game, beginning to season’s end. We stress the ability to play through obstacles and overcoming adversity as a team by grinding it out, staying disciplined, and maintain system as much as possible.”
Offensively, TVA was led by Gabe Sinor (MB), Landon Moua (OH), and Mason Stokes (OH). Libero Jacob Vang led the team in digs, while setters Jordan Lee and Logan Taylor ran the offense. TVA also benefited from the play of right side Ethan Westbury, middle Ronin Yang, right side Evan Ladeairos, and defensive specialist Tristan Moua. Landon Moua, Taylor, and Ladeairos have tried out for USA Volleyball High Performance teams.
Coach Moua enjoyed the match against Bay to Bay in the finale. “Thanks to Bay to Bay for an awesome match,” he said. “They were a well-put-together team that had no weaknesses. Hats off to the coaches and players for doing a great job. They were stacked in every rotation and their ball control was flawless, so they ran a very fast tempo and moved the ball around a lot, making it very hard to defend. They also didn’t make many errors, limiting our ability to try and make a comeback. Every time we tried to make a run to capture the momentum, they were able to put a stop to it. Even though we came up short, our guys played their hearts out, and I am extremely proud of them for doing so well.”
Moua saw his team engineer a pair of comebacks in the tournament — against Bay to Bay 15-2 and KU’IKAHI 15s.
“We gave up the first game to Bay to Bay (25-23),” he noted. “Our guys could have simply folded and gave up, but I am proud of them for staying poised and resilient despite a few discretionary calls to come back and win the next two sets. I have always stressed to the players not to worry and get distracted about things they can’t control. Worry about things that can be controlled, such as ball-handling, system, offense, and defense. Before we point the finger of blame at anyone, we need to own up to our own careless errors such as serves, passes, rotations, and hitting errors.
“During our first game on the second day against KU’IKAHI from Hawaii, we also gave up the first set due to failure in warmups, effort level, communication on the court, and preparation. Our opponents also played a different style of volleyball, requiring our team to make some necessary adjustments. With a sense of urgency, the guys were able to bounce back from a loss and step on the gas pedal to earn another victory.”
Moua is looking forward to the future with this group. “Hopefully we can continue to play together as a team with the same roster as long as possible so we can improve our ball control, chemistry, and speeding up our tempo, hopefully running some more organized plays,” he said. “We still have room for one or two more players as well. If we could acquire some size moving forward, it would be great also.”
Bid status: The Far Western awarded single bids at 16, 17, and 18 Open, while 15 Open had two bids available.
Next week: A look at qualifier action from Chicago and Rochester, New York.