Daily Dots (March 4, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)
• Five years after Lindsey Mango signed an NLI to attend Louisville as a highly-regarded libero, her father, Kirk, published the book, How to Become a True Champion: Achieving Athletic Excellence From the Inside Out. It’s a 265-page book intended to inspire and help athletes reach their full potential.
• Mango’s book is filled with quotes relevant to today’s volleyball athletes, like this one:
“The power to become whatever and whomever you decide, and the realization that you actually have this power, is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to yourself.”
You may purchase Mango’s book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Rowan & Littlefield.
• Last Friday, I put out a call to club coaches to share stories about players on their team – not stars – who have most impressed them early in the season. Rachel Morris, of WAVE 17 Rachel fame, wrote in about Vivianna Sanchez on her team.
“She was on the 15-5 team, 16-3 team and then made my 17-1 this year,” Morris said. “She was the 12/13th kid to start the year and now she is my M2. She has tons of athleticism and upside and is a really fun kid, the light of the team. She is funny and works hard and has made a significant impact already.”
Are you playing on a 5s team? YOU could be the next Vivianna Sanchez, someone who improves to become a starter on a nationally-ranked team!
• Earlier today, I put out our 15s club national rankings. I mentioned in the preamble that I was so torn on picking my top 25 that I wrote narratives about 32 teams, all which were good enough to have a numerical ranking next to their names. Here are the other seven, in alphabetical order:
Circle City 15 Purple (Indiana) — Based on how it performed as 14s a year ago, Circle City wasn’t supposed to be a candidate for the top 25 so early in this club season. But a third-place finish at Central Zones followed by a 6-2 T-5 at President’s Day in St. Loo put them into the conversation. Head coach Jenna Tadros said that her team is exceptional defensively, with Alleigh Dutton, Ella Byrum and Chloe Gilley. Pins Ava Utterback, Alexis Maesch and Sophia Mayo, and setter Emery Moore are players to watch on a team that could be one of the sleeper teams in this division when all is said and done.
• Club V 15 Ren Matt (Utah) — This team is a bit of an enigma, but I have strong enough feelings about it to “take a chance” by ranking it in the top 25. Club V has two facilities 45 minutes apart in the Salt Lake City metro area. Each had a 14s team last year and finished 1-2 in the region. At 15s, Club V combines the best kids from the two facilities to make a “super team.” Add a couple of key move-ins from out of state and you have a team with tremendous potential. Players to watch include 6-2 Zoey Burgess, who started on the right for state champion Lone Peak and touches almost 10-4. Burgess will play middle for Club V along with 6-1 Ava Napierski, who also touches 10-0. Libero Trinity Tien and outsides Masina Perez and Jaden Hendrickson, a California import, also will play key roles in the success of Matt Carlson’s squad.
• Elevation 15 Chicas (Ohio) — Howard Garcia has a very energetic team with precision servers and good pin hitting. Six-foot pins Sidney Barrett and Elise Marchal are keys to the team’s success, as are dynamic setter Lily Bolen and fast defender Dak Henry. New middles Katie Noschang and Leah Wiley will need to hold their own as blockers and be available as hitters to help the Chicas develop into a team that can compete with even the country’s most physical teams.
• FC Elite 15 Navy (Wisconsin) — FC Elite turned heads last weekend by defeating Milwaukee Sting 15 Gold in a Regional Qualifier. This is a team with high level athletes that has played only local events since before the pandemic, but is ready to test itself on bigger stages at MEQ, Northern Lights and Triple Crown in the coming weeks. Players to watch include libero Olivia Baierl, Setter-rights Olivia Van Lannen and Bryn Janke, outsides Annalise Patchett and Greta Wise and middles Mattea Kiepert and Emma Nilson.
• Houston Juniors 15 Elite (Texas) – HJV is 20-6 this season in advance of a challenging Tour of Texas sojourn to Austin this weekend. Coached by Felipe Coronel, this team, with nine returning from last year’s 14s, which finished second on the Tour; is big and athletic with explosiveness on both sides of the ball. Among the returnees, some to watch include pin hitters Dominique Phills, Mariana Buchanan and Lauren Battle, middle Adell Murray and libero Alice Volpe. Among the three new players, setter Morgan Durgens, who played up a year ago, stays at 15s another year and brings experience, a great presence and the ability to run a high-level offense.
• Rockwood Thunder 15 Elite (Missouri) — Rockwood earned a 14 Open bid in Orlando before the pandemic and the team now has Chris Reid as coach. To me that means the team will be even better as 15s. “The team has a lot of offensive depth, which, combined with consistent ball contrl, should make Rockwood a tough Open competitor,” Reid said. Ten of 11 from last year’s team are back, headlined by pins Maya Witherspoon, Allison Risley and Emma Parker and libero Olivia Hasbrook. Parker, a 6-0 RS, missed all of last season due to an ACL tear, so she’s like adding a first-round pick to an already established team.
• Temecula Viper 15-Mauro (California) — There seems to be a consensus top four 15s in Southern California, as reflected in these rankings. Viper is fifth, with an up arrow after finishing second to Mizuno Long Beach 15 Rockstar at the Premier Volleyball League’s President’s Day event. Viper returns seven from a top 10 SCVA 14s team of a year ago, including outsides Abby Jones and Stella Norman and middle Havannah Vogel. The team picked up three newcomers, defenders Zayda Fuertez and Skylar Darr and OH Zoe Piche, which should provide much better ball control.