Daily Dots (March 12, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)

Brooke Nuneviller had 35 kills against just one error in 65 swings Sunday when Oregon beat Washington in five sets. And she also had 19 digs, two assists, and two blocks.

The first time I saw Nuneviller, she was a freshman playing six rotations for Aspire’s 15s at Crossroads. She was awful! She shanked more passes than she controlled and she couldn’t score at all.

It was the worst I ever saw her play and I watched her a lot. By her senior year of high school, Nuneviller was a national player of the year candidate, but questions remained whether she could terminate at the Pac-12 level or be relegated to playing libero, a position she assumed on the USA Junior National Team. Indeed, as a freshman at Oregon, Nuneviller played exclusively at libero for the Ducks and only transitioned to outside hitter her sophomore year out of necessity. Look at her now!

My point? Always believe in yourself, don’t ever let a bad game keep you down, work hard and fight for what you want. Because you never know …

• True success or being a “winner” in volleyball should not really be measured by the gold, silver, or bronze medal around your neck, but rather by the willingness, determination, sacrifice, and heart you apply in the process of your achievement. Those medals are just the outcome of this process.

This is the philosophy Kirk Mango preaches in his 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.

You may purchase Mango’s book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Rowan & Littlefield.

Elevation 15s Chicas went 2-1 this morning on the first day of 15 Open play at MEQ in Indianapolis. Last weekend, Howard Garcia’s team placed second in 15 Open at Bluegrass despite injuries to setter Lilly Bolen (knee) and OH Payton Evans (ankle). Both played through their injuries to the end.

That grit is to be commended but it comes at a cost. Bolen has some tenderness but will play at MEQ. Evans will not. Elevation will count on MB Elise Marschal to play six rotations and carry the offensive load.

SynergyForce 16 National James competed in the March Showdown in Sacramento in the 17s/18s division last weekend. The team went 8-2 and was the highest finishing of the ten 16s teams that tried their hands playing up. SynergyForce did not play a team in its age group and lost only to Absolute Black 18-1 and Absolute Black 17-1, which went undefeated to capture the event. SynergyForce is considered the best 16s team in Northern California.

“This was the first real tournament we competed in,” noted SynergyForce head coach James Todd. “The whole tourney, all 12 players contributed a lot. Every kid played every match and helped lead us to a solid finish. In a couple of weeks, we have our first travel tourney, where there should be some real stiff competition. It will be a huge measuring stick on how well we stack up with some of the best 16U teams on the West Coast.”

• In 2015, Rage Gabe 15-1 won the 15 Open national championship, conducted that year in New Orleans. The same year, Encore Navy 16-1 medaled in 16 Open. Since then no team from Northern California has medaled in the four age groups (15s to 18s) we cover. In fact, only Rage, which tied for fifth in 16 Open in 2016, has even come close.

To find out why, we asked Gabe Leal, who coached that team, now a partner with Omni VBC in Sacramento.

“I feel like we have been held back by our region as far as how our competition is set up,” he said. “Other regions are doing a better job with competition. You’re playing the best of the best in your region right away regardless of age group, which is helping to prepare you for qualifiers or major tourneys and, hopefully, Nationals.

“Luckily, a new league, the West Coast Volleyball Association, is doing that here in our region. Hopefully once COVID is under more control and the league is able to fully operate, we will be competing at a higher level and have better results at qualifiers and at nationals by allowing the top 15s teams to compete against the top 17-18s teams. The best of the best will play each other regardless of age group.”

• I asked club coaches recently via email (http://eepurl.com/hn9qgr to get yourself on the list) what their celebratory meal would be if they won a big event and could spare no expense. Doug Chinchar, who runs No Name VBC in Tampa, said that he would start with his favorite libation along with a dozen raw oysters. He would follow that with filet mignon, medium rare, topped with crab meat. He did not mention dessert (“I went to dessert on a club with No Name?”), but did mention the company:

“My beautiful wife and kids right next to me!”

Chinchar is a character. The former director at Sandspurs, Chinchar started No Name in 2009, partly to honor his favorite place in Florida, No Name Key between Marathon and Key West; and partly for the attention.

His club’s 16s team is very good and capable of drawing their own attention. The team is playing Open at the Sunshine Volleyball Classic this weekend and went 2-1 today to advance. The team boasts two big hitters, 6-3 RS Maddie Snider and 6-0 OH Ali Waldon, and a 5-8 freshman setter, Naomi Chinchar, for whom the club director has a particular fondness.

Gabrielle Gerry

• Speaking of eating, I asked some young volleyballers to send me a photo of them consuming their favorite tournament snack. Gabrielle Gerry, a 6-5 middle and a member of that enormously talented Adidas KiVA 16 Red team, went all Z-Bar at the Bluegrass Tournament in her hometown. If she was from Hawai’i, she would have been eating musubi. Just sayin’ …
Alexa Markley, a 6-2 pin hitter player for A5 17-Jing, checked in to share the funniest thing she’s ever seen in volleyball.

“It was during my 16s year of club volleyball at Triple Crown. An outside on my team transitioned off of the net to hit, and backed into the foot of my coach. My coach’s shoe was then kicked off into the middle of the court and play was stopped. Everyone was laughing so hard on and off the court, including the parents and college coaches surrounding our court. What made it so funny though was no one knew how the shoe got onto the court until we later looked at film.”

Jacksonville Skyline 14 Royal took on Houston Skyline 14 Royal in 14 Open at the Sunshine Volleyball Classic two weekends ago in Orlando. It marked the first time that these two clubs, both offshoots of Skyline Juniors in Dallas, had met on the court. Jacksonville Skyline is only in its fourth year of existence. Houston Skyline won in straight sets.

• Finally, let’s play a game called “matched pairs,” where I pick a club roster at random and try to find player names that go together. My random number generator chose Madfrog 15 Black from Texas and the matched pair immediately jumped out at me: setter Hannah Ross and RS Katherine Janise.

Now, it would be even better if a kid named “Chandler” were on the team, but I’ll take Ross and Janise, seeing as they did share a plot line in Season 5, Episode 12, the one where Ross’ whining was even too much for Janice.

Ross: “Let me get this straight; you are saying that I have become so whiny that I annoy you, Janice.”

Janice: “Well, yeah.”

Ross: “Oh … My … God!”

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