18s girls: Tourneys postponed or on hold, USAV and AAU change 18s national dates

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Girls 18s volleyball 3/26/2020-A5 18s-Beast of the Southeast
A5 18s at 2020 Beast of the Southeast

USA Volleyball put the club season on pause this month when it put a halt to its endorsed activities through at least April 15. While we don’t know when — or if — the season will continue, we do know plenty of events have been rescheduled in hopes of salvaging whatever’s possible.

This week, USAV announced new dates for the 18s Girls Junior National Championships originally scheduled for May 1-3 in Reno, Nevada. The three-day event is now set for June 23-25 in the same location. The rest of the USAV age divisions are still set to compete at their National Championships June 25-July 4 in Dallas, Texas. 

“The health and welfare of USA Volleyball’s membership, volleyball families and fellow citizens is our primary concern,” USAV released in a statement. “Due to the recent concerns and the ever-changing status of the COVID-19 coronavirus, USA Volleyball has decided that it is in the best interest of everyone involved to postpone the 18s Girls’ Junior National Championship currently scheduled to take place May 1-3 in Reno, Nevada.

“We have secured new dates with Reno and will be rescheduling the event for June 23-25, 2020. We will be sending out more information on 18s qualification for the remaining bids later this week. We want to thank the City of Reno for working with USA Volleyball to provide a way for this amazing event to continue.”

Four 18s national qualifiers were impacted by the shutdown — Crossroads, Mideast, Pacific Northwest and SCVA Red Rock Rave. Crossroads and PNQ canceled their events. The SCVA rescheduled its qualifier from late March to May 8-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada, releasing a statement saying “The SCVA has rescheduled the Red Rock Rave for May 8-10. The SCVA will host all age divisions on this one weekend, and will be awarding bids for the 11 and under through the 17 and under age divisions. The SCVA will also offer a non-bid event for 18 and under teams.  The field sizes will be restricted as the event will be on one weekend instead of two.”

MEQ has a notice on its website that it is working to reschedule its event, with the 18s playing over Memorial Day weekend.

“We have reached out to the St. Louis and Indianapolis Convention centers about a reschedule. We currently are looking at May 23rd and the May 30th weekends. As you can imagine, both of these dates are very tentative as the convention center has quite a few events to juggle. We did however, want to be pro-active in these discussions and let you know of these tentative possibilities. As we get more information, we will post and distribute.  We expect more concrete information next week,” the statement said. 

Before qualifying play stopped, the 18s had awarded 21 of the 36 bids, with three at-larges in play and 12 remaining to be decided at the four qualifiers left. USAV plans to release more information later in the week. Best-case scenario would be bids still going out of the Red Rock Rave and MEQ and then picking nine at-large teams based on available results. The 18s have played enough of their schedule that shorting the results by two qualifiers would still supply enough relevant data to determine at-larges. 

That’s the best-case, but of course the worst-case picture would be the season being canceled outright. Another scenario could see no more qualifiers getting played but the 18s championships still going on. That would mean USAV coming up with a way to select 15 clubs to fill out the 36-team field. There’s no easy way to do that with three of the largest 18s qualifiers not being played in MEQ, Crossroads and SCVA. 

Should the 18s championships be played in late June, it’s unclear how many players would be unable to attend. At that point many players plan to be already in their respective colleges. That’s also, of course, taking into consideration that colleges are back and operating normally, which is a whole other question. 

Legacy 18-Elite coach Bryan Lindstrom said his team could be missing up to five players should things be back up and running by then. Legacy isn’t the only one in that position and with the news coming out many are still in the stages of gathering information in order to make contingency plans. 

“For us, it’s still a bit early to tell but I’ll know more after our weekly team meeting (via Zoom, of course),” A5 Mizuno 18-1 coach Scott Shelley said. “While I’m excited to potentially get another tournament coaching this team and these players, our players are working with their college coaches to determine who will be able to attend Nationals. We’ve had an incredible season up to this point and have an opportunity to make it a historic season for this 18s team and the club overall, but most players will have already moved to college, so with classes, workouts, etc., at the moment we don’t know who will be able to attend.

“I fear this will be the case for a number of teams and players around the country, so I am more curious to see how college coaches are going to react. Do they want their players playing or would they rather the players be on-campus, going to classes, working out, etc.? If so, then either the level of play will be affected, or teams will fill rosters with younger players, which I assume would have to be allowed given the postponement. It’s unprecedented territory obviously, so our focus right now is trying to determine if we will have the players to field a team and, if so, working on the logistics to get players, parents and coaches to Reno.”

And this is just the 18s we are talking about. 

There is plenty more to be worked out across the rest of the age groups and with other associations like the Junior Volleyball Association (JVA) and AAU.

JVA director Jenny Hahn said it took lots of work between the city of Louisville, the hotels and the Expo Center to get its largest tournament — the JVA World Challenge — switched from early April to June 12-14. The JVA’s other remaining events — the JVA West Coast Cup May 23-25 in Long Beach and the JVA SummerFest June 6-7 in Columbus — remain unchanged for now. 

AAUs 18s Nationals was slated for the same weekend as the West Coast Cup, May 23-25 in Orlando. But Thursday AAU released this statement, moving its 18s event to coincide with the national tournament June 25-28:

“After careful consideration, and in order to provide all teams the opportunity to compete for a national championship, the AAU Volleyball National Committee has decided to move the AAU Girls’ 18U Junior National Volleyball Championships from Memorial Day Weekend to June in conjunction with the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships. This is a decision that the AAU did not make lightly but one we strongly feel is in the best interest of all teams, their athletes, parents, and coaches as it gives all teams more time to make arrangements to attend nationals.”

As for the other age groups whose USAV qualifying season was brought to a halt, new dates have been set for most of the ones postponed.

As stated above, the Red Rock Rave is going to all ages over one weekend May 8-10 and MEQ is looking at later dates in May. Show Me in Kansas City is set for May 16-18 and May 22-24. The Lone Star Classic just announced new dates this week, naming May 23-25, May 29-31 and June 5-7 for its various age groups. Northern Lights is now set for May 15-17, while Big South has moved its event to June 5-7. The Northeast Qualifier and Far Westerns remain postponed. Windy City in Chicago has been canceled. 

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