This is “Dots,”’s weekly look at 10 things in club volleyball, past or present, that interest me and hopefully will interest you. Look for Dots every Tuesday through Junior Nationals this summer:

• President’s Day Weekend is upon us! In the past that meant Vegas, SPVB in Chicago, Asics in Omaha, Dayton, Columbus, Orlando…These days it means St. Louis a little, Capitol Hill a little and Triple Crown NIT A LOT.

Yes, from February 18-20, downtown Kansas City will be host to the Triple Crown NIT, which has become arguably the most loaded tournament in the country, bigger than AAU Nationals and perhaps even bigger than USAV’s Junior Nationals.

Triple Crown has figured out how to bring virtually all of the elite teams to its tournament to determine the ersatz early-season national champion in the 12s-18s age groups. Amazing!

• Triple Crown has released its power pools for the tournament. In the age groups we cover (15s-18s), the teams in Power Pool A represent a Who’s Who of the top teams in their age divisions nationally:

15s: Boiler Juniors, Dallas Skyline, Elevation, Legacy (MI), Madfrog, Mintonette, Tstreet, WAVE
16s: 1st Alliance, AZ Storm, Coast, Drive Nation, HJV, Houston Skyline, Milwaukee Sting, Surfside
17s: A5, Dynasty, Drive Nation, HJV, OT Tampa, Premier Nebraska, TAV, WAVE
18s: A5, Club V, Coast, Drive Nation, MAVS KC, Munciana, Premier Nebraska, Sunshine

Here are some teams I really like that just fell short of Pool A:

15s: Alamo, NKYVC
16s: WAVE
17s: Colorado Juniors, NKYVC
18s: 1st Alliance, WAVE

NKYVC 15 Tsunami’s only age group losses have come to Mintonette, the defending age group USAV National champions.

Colorado Juniors 17 Kevin is a formidable group that tied for fifth in 16 Open at Junior Nationals last year. This group includes three of the best juniors in the country – libero Ella Vogel, OH Paityn Chapman and S/OH Izzy Starck and a top, tall senior striker, Avah Armour, playing down.

NKYVC 17 Tsunami finished second at 16s here a year ago despite playing shorthanded.

1st Alliance 18 Gold won 17 Open at Junior Nationals and has practically its entire team back.

WAVE 18-Juliana has a roster loaded with blue chip recruits, including OH Julia Blyashov, the Stanford OH signee who led Cathedral Catholic to the high school national championship.

• Which teams are my picks to win?

In 18s, I’m taking WAVE to prevail over Premier Nebraska 18 Gold. I really like the depth of talent on both teams, something you need to survive a three-day slugfest like this.

In the 17s, there are four teams that appear to stand head and shoulders above the rest. I’m going to take two to meet in the finals, with A5 17-Jing taking the title in three over Dynasty. I love that Dynasty team, but A5 has the sheer size to cause any team problems.

Give me AZ Storm Elite 16 Thunder over 1st Alliance 16 Gold in the 16s division. Storm has yet to lose in its age group and has the championship experience to go all the way here.

Finally, In the 15s, I’ll take hot Dallas Skyline 15 Royal to win it all over a Legacy 15-1 Adidas team that boasts dominating hitter Gabby DiVita.

Dallas Skyline 15 Royal won Tour of Texas last Sunday and wants to be a Kansas City Royal after Triple Crown this coming weekend.

• The second and final stop on the Tour of Texas took place last weekend.

Dallas Skyline 15 Royal survived a Saturday loss to Houston Skyline 15 Royal to win the 15 Invitational event. Keoni Williams, a 6-4 middle considered a top 10 national talent in this age group, led the way for the Dallas squad with other strong performances from OH Skylar Jackson and libero Kiley Brooks.

Austin Performance 15 adidas finished second. AP boasts 6-4 OH Henley Anderson, who currently is considered the top player nationally in the 2026 class.

Dallas Premier 15 Black defeated HJV 15 Premier in the 15 National division.

  • Houston Skyline 16 Royal, led by setter Kassie O’Brien and talented pins Bailey Warren, Taylor Porter and Ella Lewis, went undefeated to win the 16 Invitational division. Middles Bayleigh Minor and Beka Pfefferkorn also impressed. Three great victories on Day 2, over TAV 16 Black, Drive Nation 16 Red and Austin Skyline 16 Royal were the highlights. Porter and Warren each hit over .345 for the weekend, which is amazing for a pin attacker. This team is tough to beat with the strength of their serve and pass game and the speed with which they attack,” noted club director Amy Burk.

    Austin Skyline, whose roster includes 6-4 middle Addison Gaido and 6-2 OH Lily Smith, placed second.

    Texas Fury 16 Legacy, and its superstar Joy Udoye, claimed the 16 National division.

    • Drive Nation 17 Red, also known by me as “the Tao of Cao,” because of ultra-successful coach Ping Cao, captured the 17 Invitational division, with Dallas Skyline 17 Royal second. Drive Nation boasts tremendous size in 6-5 pin Grace Carroll and 6-4 MB Ayden Ames.

    “The team demonstrated their adaptability and resilience this past weekend at the Tour,” Ping said. “Despite having a couple of players out due to injuries, they were able to maintain their focus and adjust to different situations every time they stepped out on the court.”

    Ava of Texas 17 Adidas won the 17 National division.

    • Last week, I reported a list of USAV 18 Open qualified teams, but I neglected to include the results from the late-January Salt Lake City Showdown.

The field had 19 teams, including Windy City champion Sunshine 18 LA. Sunshine, the top seed, went 6-0 over the first two days but failed to repeat when it lost in three to AZ Storm Elite 18 Thunder in Sunday’s Gold pool. Storm went on to lose to champion Club V 18 Ren Reed, 18-16 in the third. Club V had finished fifth in Chicago at Windy City in its first qualifying effort.

“It was a weekend where we were looking forward to cleaning up some areas where we fell short in Chicago,” Club V coach Reed Carlson said.  “Our serve receive, defense and blocking stepped up while our hitting and serving stayed very consistent for us.  It was fun to battle against some very talented teams.”

Tstreet 18-Chandler swept Sunshine for third and the final bid, avenging a two-set sweep from the day before.

• Winter, 2023, marks the 20th anniversary of my founding of Do you know who the No. 18s team in the nation was at the time? None other than KJ out of Seattle. KJ is now NPJ Seattle.

KJ had some star names on its roster you may recognize: Olympic setter Courtney Thompson and OH Christal Morrison, both of whom led Washington to the NCAA title; OH Stevie Mussie, who became a Division I head coach at Arizona State before leaving in a shroud of controversy after one season; and Amy Dyck, a junior OH from Idaho on the team who would be a top 20 Senior Ace (and Arizona signee) as a setter one year later.

• Want to smile? Go check out former Olympian and collegiate coach Charlene Johnson’s uplifting Valentine’s Day Facebook page today:

• Finally, with all the buzz surrounding ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence that can write college essays, I decided to give it a try with a volleyball-themed question.

I started by asking about Harper Murray winning the Gatorade NPOY award, but the intelligence doesn’t extend beyond 2021.

My next question was about NIL deals for high school volleyball players. Again, I was shut down because NIL wasn’t yet a thing in 2021.

Ultimately, I went safe with this question:

Where does John Tawa land among high school volleyball experts?

Here was the answer I received:

“John Tawa is a well-known and respected expert in the world of high school volleyball. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a website that provides coverage and analysis of high school and club volleyball across the United States. Tawa has been covering high school volleyball for over 20 years and has established himself as a leading authority on the sport. He has also coached high school and club volleyball, further contributing to his knowledge and expertise. In short, John Tawa is widely considered to be one of the top high school volleyball experts in the country.”

Gotta go. Interviewing today for my first high school and club coaching gigs. I don’t want to let ChatGPT down.

Until next time …


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here