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Tawa’s Daily Dots: Qualifier updates, more player rankings, Swenson grows up

Daily Dots (February 25, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)

The Southern California Volleyball Association announced yesterday that its national qualifier, the Red Rock Rave, slated for March 27-29 and April 16-18 in Las Vegas, has been postponed to the second and third weeks in May. The SCVA announced the change because any Vegas conventions before May 1 would restrict total attendance to 1,000 people or fewer. You can read the entire release here.

• There are 12 national qualifiers for players in divisions other than 18s (the 18s play an accelerated schedule because of an early Junior National Championships date). Most of the qualifiers have been pushed back as the nation continues to find its footing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As it stands now, there are only three qualifiers scheduled for March: Sunshine in Orlando (two consecutive weekends starting March 6); the Mideast Qualifier in Indianapolis, Louisville and St. Louis (three consecutive weekends starting March 13); and the Northeast Qualifier in Philly (which starts the last weekend in March and also takes the first two weekends in April).

In April, Big South in Atlanta occupies the first weekend, Show Me in Kansas City will use the first and second weekends, Lone Star in Dallas will take the first three weekends and Far Westerns in Reno, which traditionally takes the last weekend of the qualifier season, will run two consecutive weekends starting April 17. Windy City, usually held in Chicago, will now split between St. Louis and Indianapolis and run April 23-25 and three weeks later.

Besides Red Rock and one-half of Windy City, three other qualifiers will take place in May, a month traditionally bereft of qualifying events. Northern Lights, usually held in Minneapolis, will move to Omaha and run three consecutive weekends starting April 30. Colorado Crossroads in Denver will run on consecutive weekends starting May 7. And the Pacific Northwest Qualifier in Spokane will hold its non-18s qualifier for consecutive weekends starting May 15. 

• Continuing the mock draft top 30 countdown we started yesterday — college coaches could pick ANY PLAYER in the HS Class of 2021 or younger to start a team with, based on how good the player was projected to be as a college freshman — here are picks numbered 25-21:

25. Anna Smrek, 6-8.5 MB, ’21, Defensa — Wisconsin
24. Jordyn Harvey, 6-2 OH, ’23, Hive
23. Hayden Kubik, 6-1 OH, ’22, Club Ignit – Nebraska
22. Maggie Mendenhall, 6-5 MB, ’23, Hive
21. Rachel Muisenga, 6-1 S, ’21, Adversity – Penn State

The 17s national rankings were posted this afternoon. Two teams just missing the top 25 include Tri-State Elite, which got a boost when Lucy Trump stayed to play 17s again; and Asics KiVA, which is led by MB Madison Rice-Lockett and OH Tess Schrenger.

Grace Betke

VC United’s Grace Betke (2022 Libero, Texas Tech) has been filling in for both Ella Holmstrom (2022 OH, Indiana) and Kaitlin Leider (2022 OH, Bradley) as they recover from injuries. The 5-6 Betke has frustrated opponents with her all-around play while leading VCU to a second-place 17 Open finish at Central Zone Invitational and third-place 17 Open finish at the President’s Day Classic in St. Louis)

Olivia Swenson

• A long, long time ago at AAU Nationals in Orlando, I met Olivia Swenson, daughter of longtime Hopkins head coach Vicki Swenson. She must have been only five years old or so and was so shy that she would not talk to me anymore. Fast forward and Swenson is now a 6-3 impact freshman OH playing for Wayzata HS and Northern Lights 16-1. Swenson only got to play 11 matches this past fall before Minnesota shut down high school volleyball, but she made an impression, garnering All-Conference, All-Area and All-Metro recognition.

“Olivia played really intelligently all season,” said Wayzata head coach Scott Jackson. “She hit for a high efficiency versus a tough schedule as our most featured attacker, by moving the ball around and using her power as well. She is a great receiver and has a good all-around game, too.”

NORCO is celebrating the opening of its new facility in Loveland, Colorado. It is a 10-court facility with TaraFlex floors, lots of room to serve, a terrific concessions stand and tons of parking. “It’s tremendous!” a mom exclaimed.

• On this date back in 2015, I was putting the wraps on my coverage of Crossroads. Ozark Juniors had a setter playing 15 Open who was awfully impressive. Ella May Powell made news then and she is continuing to make news in her junior year at the University of Washington. She recently amassed 60 assists in a five-set win over Colorado, which was enough to Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.

• Talking about the volleyball success of WNBA superstar Elene Delle Donne yesterday had me reminiscing about Candice Wiggins, the Stanford basketball great who played eight seasons in the pro league. Wiggins so loved volleyball that she played club ball even after she signed her NLI for basketball in November, 2003. In fact, in February, 2004, Wiggins flew to Las Vegas to play for Epic in the Las Vegas Classic only one day after helping La Jolla Country Day win a playoff game. That’s dedication!

• Speaking of dedication, I’m typing out these Dots while my eldest son is playing the baseball season opener for Stanford. It’s not distracting at all! He’s 2-3 so far with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. So fun! Baseball is hard.

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