In a thrilling conclusion to the 18 Open Elite championship, it was Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar clipping A4 Volley 18 Purple Joaco 16-25, 25-19, 15-13 in the 34th annual SCVA Las Vegas Classic. The top seed in 18 Open Elite, there was no denying Long Beach was the premier team at the event and performed like a team capable of winning a national championship.
Coming on in impressive fashion for the 17 Open Elite title was Arizona Sky 17 Gold. AZ Sky didn’t allow more than 20 points in three outings Monday, including sweeping Encore 17 Goldhahn in the final 25-13, 25-13. AZ Sky started off as the fifth overall seed.
Rage Westside 16 Michelle opened as the fourth seed before closing as the champion in 16 Open. The Nor Cal club didn’t drop a match, topping it off by sweeping CPA Xtreme U16 Elite 25-20, 25-21 in the final. Rage knocked out top-seeded San Gabriel Elite 16 Rosh in straight sets 25-19, 25-17 in the quarterfinals.
Beach Cities 15 Smack produced a wire-to-wire performance in 15 Open. The No. 1 seed went 9-0 and left town with the trophy after outlasting San Gabriel Elite 15 Rosh in three 21-25, 25-21, 15-8 in the championship match.
Here are the highlight the top plays of the day and who caught our attention on the final day of play.
What we saw and what we liked
A championship play was made by Beach Cities 15 Black’s Malia Peterson, whose ace finished off San Gabriel Elite 15 Rosh in the 15 Open final. Peterson sent a hard line drive deep into zone 5 that San Gabriel didn’t have an answer for and like that Beach Cities was the champion. Money serve!
The block put up by Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar outside Abby Karich and middle Marisse Turner wasn’t the biggest of the day but it was definitely among the timeliest. When they sent down their stuff it gave Long Beach a 15-13 set-three victory over A4 Volley 18 Purple Joaco in the 18 Open Elite championship.
Arizona Sky 17 Gold outside Trinity Freeman didn’t quite finish off championship point against Encore 17 Goldhahn in the 17 Open Elite final, but she certainly help set it up. Her sweet shot over the block and down the line in the deep corner put AZ Sky ahead 24-12 in Game 2 before capping it on the next point. Going out in style!
A4 only reached the final of 18 Open Elite after dispatching Laguna Beach 18-1 in three in the semifinals, winning the final set 15-13. The last point for A4 came when Cassandra Newman and Riley Reed hooked up for the shutdown block on the right side and A4 was through to the final. Lights out!
One of the top shots of the day came from Temecula Viper 15-1 Joslynn outside Sarah Wilson, whose timely winner sealed the victory over Maunalani 15 in the 15 Open quarterfinals. Wilson took a wide set and angled sharply cross court and inside the 10-foot line where the defender couldn’t make a play and it was over just like that. For the win!
What a game winner it was from Long Beach outside Starr Williams to finish off Apex1 18 Black 16-14 in Game 3 in a spirited 18 Open Elite quarterfinal clash. Williams went up 1 v 1 on the left side and launched a ball down just past the 10-foot line. The only thing stopping it from being even harder than it was is the ball just clipping the top of the tape. Still, match over!
Long Beach was forced to win in three because of the way the first set ended against Apex. Helen McMullin and Mia Tuaniga teamed up on a right side block that gave Apex the opening game 26-24. Not having it!
Beach Cities 15 Smack setter Camille Ann Abetong caught Vegas Velocity 15 Black off guard with her deception. She set the ball over in two well off the net and over for the point to put Beach Cities up 14-11. As one spectator said to another, “that was dirty.” We agree!
Who caught our attention
Really, Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar as a team. With many top 18s squads going at it at the Triple Crown Sports NIT in Kansas City, Long Beach can’t be forgotten about when it comes to the national-title conversation. We already mentioned Williams above. She’s more than a handful on the outside. Long Beach also has studs at libero in VolleyballMag.com All-American Nalani Iosia and setter with Kami Miner. Iosia changes the game with her jump serve and also with her ability to set off balls. Miner’s attacking, both with her dumping and hitting, were on display. She doesn’t swing often but Iosia can step in and set Miner on the right when out of system to suddenly get Beach in system. Laila Ricks in the middle and Jennifer Bolden on the right are also physical and help round out a dangerous Long Beach team.
Arizona Sky also had our attention. It’ll be interesting to see if it can breakthrough for an Open bid or not. One reason AZ Sky might be able to is having outsides Trinity Freeman and Adna Mehmedovic. With one of them in the front row at least AZ Sky has a fighting chance.
Rage 16 Westside Michelle had us watching on Day 3. In the same mold as AZ Sky, it’ll be interesting to see if the 16 Open champ in Vegas can earn an Open bid to JN’s this summer. There’s certainly pieces in place. We mentioned middle Olivia Harrison in the second-day wrap up (the first-day wrapup is here). There’s also outside Amelia Vugrincic, who joined Rage after being a part of Vision 15 Gold last year. She’s tall and gives Rage a nice option on the left. Then it was right side Madison Pietsch coming on strong down the stretch in the final, showing another option Rage possesses.