This is “Dots,”’s weekly look at 10 things in high school volleyball, past or present, that interest me and hopefully will interest you. Look for Dots every Tuesday until the last high school state championship in November:

• Last Tuesday saw the first release of what’s expected to be several entities attempting national high school team rankings this fall. Scorebook Live was first to publish in its initial attempt to cover the scene nationally.

As someone who ranked teams nationally for more than two decades, I can say definitively that it’s better to be thorough than fast. Scorebook Live’s initial attempt at rankings lack one main ingredient: EFFORT to make the pre-season list as accurate as possible.

Exhibit A: San Antonio’s Cornerstone Christian is listed as No. 1 with an 8-0 record even though the Warriors LOST to California Mira Costa THREE DAYS before the rankings were released!

Exhibit B: Kansas’ Washburn Rural, Arkansas’ Fayetteville and Indiana’s McCutcheon all made the top 25 even though all three graduated generational talents.

Indeed, what Scorebook Live’s ranking appears to be is a regurgitation of last year’s standout teams without regard to the impact of graduation, transfers, club success or young talent on these rosters.  That’s a shame, when a little bit of effort could have produced a much more credible list …

• Florida’s Viera High opened its 2023 season with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-14 sweep at the hands of Osceola. Viera is the 2022 6A runner up, while Osceola made it to the semifinals of the 7A tournament.

Cate Palmi, who averaged almost six kills per set last year as a freshman last year, had 22 kills for the victorious Kowboys, while Alex Liggeri chipped in with 40 assists.

What makes this result even more interesting is that Izzy Starck, a 6-2 senior S/OH committed to Penn State, and the reigning Colorado Player of the Year, transferred to Viera for her senior season after her father took a job in Florida. Starck did not play in the match, however, as she is currently competing with the USA U21 Women’s National Team at the World Championships in Mexico.

Izzy Starck of Colorado Juniors at USA Volleyball Girls Nationals last month/Zach Schuster on Instagram @theshoestarphoto

Starck should fit in well with a Viera team that graduated both its kill leaders but returns everyone else. Starck, who played for Rampart in Colorado Springs last fall, intends to enroll early at Penn State after the fall semester is complete.

• The next big national tournament takes place starting Thursday in Texas near Austin and it is BIG, with 68 teams starting over 17 pools. The 2022 champions, Cornerstone Christian, are not make to defend, but 2021 champion Mater Dei of California and 2022 national champion Cathedral Catholic of San Diego will make the trek to take on many of the best teams from the Lone Star State. TAPPS 6A reigning champion Prestonwood Christian Academy is the tournament’s top seed and many in the most recent TGCA 6A rankings, including No. 1 Grand Oaks, No. 2 Lake Travis and No. 3 Dripping Springs, will also be in the field.

Prestonwood has been described as perhaps the best team ever from the Dallas area. Grand Oaks’ roster includes MB Jaela Auguste and OHs Halle Thompson and Samara Coleman.  Lake Travis (18-2) is coming off of a title last weekend at the New Braunfels Fraulein Volleyfest. Dripping Springs boasts the nation’s top sophomore OH, Henley Anderson.

• Logan Bell is a talented junior outside hitter for Roncalli of Indianapolis who has committed to the University of Arizona to play both indoor and beach volleyball. In June, Bell’s parents sought guidance from the Indiana High School Athletic Association whether her participation in summer and fall beach volleyball  tournaments could affect her eligibility for the fall indoor season. Indiana prohibits any organized non-school sports competition during the authorized contest season.

The Bells argued that indoor volleyball and beach volleyball are two distinct sports and, because beach volleyball is not sanctioned by the IHSAA, the prohibition against competing during the season of sport should not apply to sand events. The IHSAA did not see it that way, ruling that volleyball is volleyball just like basketball is basketball, whether played full court 5-on-5 or half court 3-on-3.

This ruling has drawn the ire of the volleyball community, which recognizes that the 6 v. 6 indoor sport differs in material respects from the 2 v. 2 game played on sand. Indeed, when confronted with similar requests, both the Ohio and Missouri state associations ruled the opposite of Indiana.

Indeed, the purported reason for Indiana having the rule in the first place is stated in its participation “philosophy,” to wit, to discourage “the exploitation of student athletes by overzealous individuals and organizations who attempt to impose an obligation on the student …”

When considering that the request to play beach tournaments comes from Bell herself, the IHSAA appears to have issued this ruling without regard to what caused its enactment in the first place. Bell just wants to keep her beach skill sharp, as that will be a big part of her life after high school. It’s a shame that the IHSAA did not see fit to rule the other way.

The IHSAA did not respond to repeated attempts to communicate with it.

• Redondo Union, ranked 11th in California, swept both state-ranked Long Beach Wilson and state-ranked La Canada on Saturday to capture the Tae Kim Lakewood/Molten Classic title. The Sea Hawks (4-0) got terrific setting from Madi Collins and pins Vic Henkel, Abby Zimmerman and Addy Benefield all hit .300 for the day.

It’s selfie time for Redondo after winning the Tae Kim Molten Classic

“I was pleased with our focus, execution, and overall enthusiasm we had,” said coach Tommy Chaffins. “We have tremendous depth in all of the positions, but the starters were playing with such great rhythm in the finals that we only played eight players.”

• In August, 2020, Hurricane Laura heavily damaged the campus at DeQuincy High in Louisiana and destroyed the gym. Since then, getting the Tiger volleyball program on track has been a challenge. The middle school campus is about two miles away and had minimal damage, so the varsity has been sharing that gym the past two seasons, until recently when a congested schedule pushed the team to the old, time-worn practice gym on the varsity campus.

Nothing’s a motto with DeQuincy, which will be hitting the gas all fall despite challenges

New head coach Taylor Istre has developed an “All Gas, No Brakes” motto for the 2023 season, which gets underway next week.

“We will push forward regardless of the practice environment, travel time, hurricane damage, etc.,” the coach said. “Our team is looking good. We have 21 girls and 8 freshman, which has been a learning curve for me! I’m just so proud of them already.”

Dorman’s Carly O’Brien, left, and Ramsey Chastain pose with the Byrnes Tournament Trophy

• Dorman of South Carolina won the Byrnes Tournament this past weekend. The Cavaliers, who went 6-0 behind senior hitter Carly O’Brien and sophomore setter Ramsey Chastain, are coming off a 31-win season where they reached the state semifinals in 5A. Head coach Paula Kirkland is in her 42nd year at the school and owns a career record of 1053-166.

• Mammoth, a Golden State small-school power, got its 2023 season off to an auspicious start. In its very first set of the season last Friday, senior setter Madeline Le Francois served 24 straight points, with eight aces, in a 25-0 win.

Oconee County proved giant killers this past week

• After reaching the Georgia 3A finals for the first time in school history last year, Oconee County had to replace three starters (two first-team All-State players and a first-team All-Region middle). This past week, the Warriors played in the State Finalist Playdate, which included four defending state champions. Though Oconee won just three of eight matches, the wins came against the reigning 7A State Champion, Buford, reigning 5A State Champion Greater Atlanta Christian and reigning 2A State Champion Mt. Paran. Senior OH Bailey Bartlett hit .700 with seven kills in the 2-0 sweep of Mt. Paran.

Buford, incidentally, is ranked No. 15 in the Scorebook Live rankings. The Wolves are listed at 3-3 on the year.

Jizelle Castellanos served 30 aces to spark Indian Springs to its 3-0 week

• California’s Indian Springs started the 2023 campaign with three straight losses, but between Aug. 14 and Aug. 17 the Coyotes won three matches in a row, marking the first three-match winning streak in school history! Junior OH Jizelle Castellanos had 30 aces for the week for Indiana Springs, which matched its win total for all of last year in one glorious four-day span.

Until next time …


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