LAS VEGAS — The last day of any tournament is always known as championship day, as teams work the gold bracket in their respective divisions. VolleyballMag.com will be there Monday at the 34th annual SCVA Las Vegas Classic, but first we look back at Sunday’s highlights of action in the desert. In case you missed it, Saturday’s recap is here.
What we saw and liked
Forza1 North 15 UA’s libero Lauren Gott back-to-back aces early in set one against Red Rock 15 Simo. Her deep line drive serves ate up the passers and helped Forza go up 7-4. Getting it done!
Not to be outdone, Beach Cities 15 Smack outside Torrey Stafford delivered a pair of aces as well in her match against Red Rock 15 Scott. Her first serve landed at the passer’s feet and was too tough to do anything with. Then on her next one Stafford caught the top of the tape and over for the ace to put Beach City in front 16-5. That’s two for me!
Sticking with serving, San Gabriel Elite 16 Rosh’s Payton Hudspeth made her ace count. She sent a deep, hard unplayable ball toward Zone 6 to give SG Game 1 25-21 over SynergyForce 16 Gold. That’s closing a set!
Even with all that it was hard to outdo Apex1 18 Black setter Mia Tuaniga. She drilled three serves in a row to put Apex up 23-19 in Game 1 against Goldenwest 18 Asics. The first was an ace, the next two leading to Apex points. Tuaniga absolutely bombed a jump topper down for an ace to kick off the spurt. Goldenwest actually had a beautiful pass off the next rocket but didn’t convert. The third blast led to Apex putting down an overpass. Momentum changer!
It was Rage 16 Westside middle blocker Olivia Harrison coming through with a couple of impressive plays in a real short span against Encore 16 Taylor. First, Harrison delivered a shutdown block and then moments later hammered home a 3-ball for the loud kill as Rage led 20-19. This is my net!
We caught Mizuno M1 17s setter Jasmine Weidemann and middle Hanna Thompson hooking up for a beautiful kill. Mizuno ran a combo and got Thompson up in the middle 1 v 1 and the timing was perfect with Weidemann. So was the result as the ball was crushed into Zone 5 for the 18-12 advantage. Have mercy!
Rancho Valley 17 Premier middle blocker Ozzie Ozonoh was in the right spot against Rage. Rage caught Rancho in the 1 v 1 matchup but Ozonoh went up and sent the ball down for the point to cut the lead to 20-16. Not having it!
It turned out being a comeback for Rancho Valley in set two. Rage went on to win the match but not before Rancho outside Savannah Hoffmann chipped in. She popped a ball down the line to give Rancho the lead 23-22. Two points later she used the same power to go deep cross court and send the contest to a third set. Clutch!
There was a great shot from Spiral 18 UA outside Celestial Miller. She skied up high on the left and sent a nice wrist away swing with a sharp angle cross court for the kill to get Spiral going down 12-7. That’s not easy!
PSVBA 15 Dan was down and nearly out until Sophia Baugh and Johanne Wartelle teamed up on a huge block on the right side. It was also huge in another way, as SF Tremors held match point at 14-12. That cut it to 14-13 and PSVBA went on for the 16-14 victory. What a roof!
Blocking was on display as San Gabriel Elite 17 Rosh middle Leela Anvekar went up 1 v 1 against Rage 17 Westside Gabe and came out ahead with the emphatic roof. Rage led 16-12 but Anvekar made her presence known. That’s how you do it!
Three points later, it was Rage outside Olivia Keller making her presence known once again. This time she went up and over the block and sent the ball down not far past the 10-foot line for the 19-12 advantage. Filthy!
We witnessed an exciting conclusion to San Gabriel Elite 18 Rosh’s victory over Apex. It was outside Ella Mao coming through with a resounding stuff block to help SG close out the third set 15-11. Match over!
It wasn’t quite match over but it should’ve been after City Beach 17s middle Jacquelyn Moore put on a show. She went high, high up for the set and pounded it cross court down near the sideline at 15 feet, causing City Beach coach Jacky Yao to stand up off the bench in celebration. Get it!
Who caught our attention
Sofia Maldonado, OH, Spartans 18-1 — Spartans are from Mexico, so Maldonado isn’t known here stateside, but she soon will be. She’s signed with Arizona and what a steal it is for the Wildcats. Coaches in attendance describe Maldonado in the same mold as former USC standout Samantha Bricio. If Maldonado was playing for an American club she would very likely be considered the top recruit in the country. As one coach said Sunday, you aren’t going to find a better player in the country than Maldonado. She’s tall, lanky, smooth and is rapidly developing an all-around game after playing middle growing up.
Olivia Harrison, MB, Rage 16 Westside Michelle – We caught Harrison more than a couple times roaming the gym Sunday and every time we passed her court she was doing something impressive. She’s a physical player who makes her presence felt on both sides of the net with solid blocking and attacking. She’s someone the defense better account for or it’ll be in trouble.
Hanna Thompson, MB, Mizuno M1 17s — We noticed Thompson on Day 1 as well. And she was right back at it on Day 2. She’s a really active middle and she’s quick so that’s a really good combination to behold. She’s a bit undersized for a middle but she gets off the ground fast so that helps make up for it.
Bailey Showalter, OH, SIVBC 16 Thunder — Based on her height, Showalter would blend in with any 18s team in the country if she chose to. She looks like she has a bright future at the next level, based on all the college coaches checking her out Sunday. She plays all the way around and though her front row play is ahead of her back row play it is coming along.
Wrapping up Sunday
The eight-team gold bracket is set in 18 Open Elite. Of the five pools on Day 2, the Nos. 1 teams took first in all five pools. The only one to drop a match was San Gabriel Elite 18 Rosh, which already had the pool clinched going into its last contest, the one it lost. Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar, Laguna Beach 18-1, A4 Volley 18 Purple and Rage 18 Greg all went 3-0. Apex1 18 Black and Mizuno M1 181 both went 2-1 and advanced as second-place teams from the No. 4 spot in their respective pools. Both kept it going later on, winning challenge matches to reach the gold bracket as well. Apex fended off AZ Revolution 18 Adidas in three 25-23, 17-25, 15-11. M1 also won in three, downing Rancho Valley 18 Premier 28-26, 23-25, 15-4. Rounding out the gold bracket is Leaside 18 Legacy. The Canadian club earned the tiebreaker criteria among second-place finishers and thus avoided a challenge match.
17 Open Elite boiled down to three pools on Day 2. Pool 3 was the only one that played out to seed. In that pool, Rage Westside 17 Gabe went 3-0 followed by Encore 17 Goldhahn. As a result of its play, Rage takes over the top seed after reseeding and gets a bye into the semifinals. Encore, meanwhile, will face HJV 17 Premier in a play-in match and could earn a rematch with Rage. In Pool 1, City Beach 17-1 tied with ARVC 17 Adidas at 2-1 but owned the head-to-head tiebreaker for first place. City Beach received the other bye while ARVC matches up with AZ Sky 17 Gold. AZ Sky had a three-way tie in Pool 2 with Forza1 North 17 UA and HJV at 2-1. AZ Sky and HJV had better set percentages than Forza while AZ Sky had a better points ratio than HJV and took first.
As expected, San Gabriel Elite 16 Rosh has held down the top seed in 16 Open and remains the favorite heading into Monday’s gold bracket. San Gabriel was one of eight teams out of 10 pools to go 3-0 on Saturday as the No. 1 team in its pool. Club H 16 Adidas, Momentous 16 Raul, CPA Xtreme 16 Elite, OJVA 16 Gold, Sudden Impact 16 Thunder, Rage Westside 16 Michelle and Red Rock 16 Dwight all joined SG in that regard. The two pools to go against the grain were Forza1 North 16 UA winning Pool 3 as the No. 2 team and Legacy Girls 16 Elite taking Pool 10 as the No. 4 team. All first and second-place finishers moved on to challenge rounds Saturday night. SG, Sudden Impact, CPA, Club H, Legacy and Rage Westside were the first-place clubs that won their challenge matches. Vision 16 Blue and HVC 16 U Premier reached the gold bracket by winning challenge matches as second-place teams.
Seeding at the very top held up well in 15 Open. All five teams in the No. 1 spot advanced with four of them — Beach Cities 15 Smack, Viper 15-1 Jolynn, Red Rock 15 Simo, and Absolute Black 15-1 — going 3-0. San Gabriel Elite 15 Rosh was the exception, ending 2-1 and in second place in Pool 3. There, it was Vegas Velocity 15 Black taking first at 3-0 from the No. 3 spot. Breaking through from the No. 4 spots and taking second at 2-1 were Rage 15 Greg, HRVC Hurricanes 15 Black and Puget Sound 15 Dan. Puget Sound though was relegated to a challenge match against Maunalani 15 Hurley and lost in straight sets 25-17, 25-19. Rage and Hurricanes ended up in a challenge match against one another, with Rage sweeping 25-23, 25-14.
More of our juniors coverage on VolleyballMag.com is found here, including: