Tawa’s Daily Dots: MEQ correction, Miner’s back, join the lists, great videos

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Tawa's Daily Dots 3/30/2021
Ashley Hall of Jacksonville Skyline 16 Royal

Daily Dots (March 30, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)

• One thing you’ll learn about me if you read my articles faithfully (as you should!) is that I’m wrong a lot. You might take an issue with my national team rankings or my questionable qualifier predictions and, at times, I’m mistaken on other things. There’s a lot of info to process when you’re a national reporter and sometimes you’re just wrong. And when you’re wrong, you have to admit it. My bad. Mea culpa.

In that vein, I bring you to my first correction of the day: the 18 USA division at MEQ. On Friday, I reported that the three bid recipients were:

Upward Stars 18 Corey
PVA 18 Elite
Texas Pistols 18 Black

In fact, the bid winners were the Pistols, Drive Nation 18 Red and Southern Kentucky Elite Volleyball Academy 18 Blue.

How was I so wrong? I failed to make this a national priority. I mean, I failed to make this a National priority.

Recall the higher-archy of bids: Open, National, USA, American. National bids exclusively come from regions, which all have different processes  and timelines for how they determine recipients. Some regions have already handed them out; others have yet to. But National bids trump USA bids. So, if you enter the USA division at a qualifier and finish in bid position, you don’t get it, because you’re already in National, which is higher in priority.

To bring this to life, both Upward Stars and PVA had earned bids through their regions. HP Illinois, which tied for third, already had a USA bid. The MEQ USA bids then trickled to T-5, where Drive Nation and SKEVA scooped them up. I hereby invite the coaches of those two squads to contact me (jtawa@volleyballmag.com) with their qualification stories, which I am happy to run in a future Dots article.

• Figuring out who comes away with USA bids can be tricky business. Take the 18 USA division at the Northeast Qualifier in Philadelphia, for instance. NOVA Juniors 18s Navy, which had an American bid, finished first and upgraded to USA. That’s one of three eligible bids emanating from the qualifier. Southwest 18N TR, which took second, already had a USA bid from the Ohio Valley Qualifier and was ineligible to earn one again. T-3 Oviedo 18 Black, and two teams that finished tied for fifth, VA Juniors 18 Elite and Alliance 18 Ren, also had either a National or USA bid. All were likewise ineligible here.

Vienna Elite 18-F, which finished T-3, did not have a bid yet and took the second one from NEQ.

Which team got the third? St. Pete 18 Teal, which tied for fifth, says on its Facebook page that it did and even has photos of paperwork to that effect being signed. But, to my knowledge, another T-5 team, High Voltage1517 College Prep, did not enter with either a National or USA bid in hand and did not play St. Pete for the last bid.

Did High Voltage decline the opportunity? Did it forfeit the opportunity? Did it not know that a bid might trickle all the way down to the quarterfinalists because of so many teams that came in with bids clinched?

Here’s how it played out, we believe: Apparently, after some time period elapsed after the quarterfinals were played, the loudspeaker attempted to call the teams to the tournament desk. High Voltage, being a 17s team – it used NEQ as a warm up for Big South this week – declined the opportunity to play and contend for a bid, which allowed St. Pete to take it without having to play further.

Yesterday, we reached out to the tournament for an explanation. We have yet to hear back but will report if we receive information that is different from that we have presented here.

Invasion 18 Black has an American bid from the Heart of America Region, but is still searching for an upgrade. The team has twice made it to the Gold bracket in the USA division at national qualifiers only to fall short of a bid. The most recent effort was at MEQ in Louisville.

Middles Abby Massengill and Tamia McClunie were solid all weekend for Invasion in The ‘Ville.

“They both have high volleyball IQ and touches,” coach Travis Dalton said. “Tamia hit a .580 (48 kills, 69 attempts. 2.5 kills a game) and Abby hit a .500 (43 kills, 74 attempts, 2.4 kills a game) on the weekend. They typically always hit .450+ and normally are top 2 or 3 in kills. Another highlight was our outside hitter, Kendall Boone. She had one of her best tournaments of the year and hit a .431, 39 kills on 72 attempts, 2.1 kills a game. Setter Reese Nix stepped up when we moved go to a 5-1 offense in the second match of our second day.”

Invasion goes for that elusive USA bid once more this weekend in its hometown at the Show Me National Qualifier.

 • This is the portion of the Dots where we reveal how we did on our prognostications for the Open qualifiers last weekend. We call this “Genius or Dope.”

First, let’s talk about winning the Lone Star, NEQ and Red Rock Rave 18 Open qualifiers. I picked AZ Storm to win Lone Star, TAV at NEQ and MAVS KC at Red Rock.

I went 1-for-3, with national No. 1 TAV winning, of course (over A5 Scott, as I also predicted), but my Storm and MAVS picks were both wrong, it turns out. Storm finished tied for fifth and lost four times, twice to Club V and once each to Houston Skyline and SA Juniors. MAVS went 9-1 and placed third. The team missed the championship match by losing to champion Adversity, 15-10 in the third, in one Gold pool.

So, I’ll call 33 percent picking of champions “dope level.” How about picking teams to qualify?

At Lone Star, I went with Dallas Skyline, Club V and OJVA and went 2-for-3. I’ll take it! I missed on OJs, which finished tied for ninth. TAV Houston picked up the third bid instead.

At NEQ, I selected East Coast Power, Academy Diamond and Pittsburgh Elite to come away with bids. Only ECP made me look like a genius. Pittsburgh Elite lost only on day 1 but also got knocked out on day 1. Academy fell from contention on day 2 before finishing runner up in the Silver bracket (8th overall). Tribe and Maryland Juniors earned the other two Open bids.

At Red Rock, I liked Rancho Valley to qualify and make the finals, with San Gabriel and Adversity Purple gaining the other two bids. Adversity Purple came through for me but Rancho and San Gabriel did not. Neither finished among the top 10. WD Nation and A4 took the other bids.

So, in the final assessment, my picking this week was bad. Very, very bad. After a year off, it might be that I’m rusty. It might also be that I was always this bad …
 
• In this Dot, I apologize for being wrong about the Kami Miner Rapid Read story VolleyballMag.com published last week. In it, we wrote that with the effective cancellation of the school season at Redondo Union HS in California, and Miner electing not to play for Mizuno Long Beach, the Stanford signee’s days playing at this level were effectively over.

In the word and tone of The Impractical Jokers, “Welllllll!”

Folks emailed this weekend to report Miner playing for Mizuno Long Beach at Red Rock, helping the team finish in the Gold pools.

Said Miner: “When high school season was finally canceled in L.A. County on March 20, I knew I needed to get some live game play in because I had not played in a match since my previous 18’s team won the Las Vegas Classic in February 2020.

“My plan was never to come back permanently. I chose to play in the Premier Volleyball League two-day tournament on March 13 and 14, where we finished in 3rd place with a big win over TStreet 18-Kasia. It is a completely new team of girls that I have never played with before since I have always played in the older age groups.

“I also chose to go to Vegas and play in the Red Rock Rave Tournament to get more game play in where I set, blocked, hit and passed in all of the serve receive rotations as a right side hitter.

“I thought that coming back, it was important that I got reps in every skill, not just the one’s necessary for the setting position. Although the team roster is constantly changing, and one of our only two middles had to leave after day 2, it felt incredible to be back on the court.”

To the club volleyball directors and coaches reading this: I just checked and have 201 directors and 252 club coaches on my email list, about a quarter of what I’d built up at PrepVolleyball.com over the years. That’s the first place I go to ask a lot of people the same question, such as, “Who are the most exciting club players currently playing?”

If you are a director or coach and are not on my list, you MUST affirmatively opt in. I cannot put you in manually; because then the list feels like SPAM and my emails end up not being delivered. You must affirmatively elect to receive correspondence from me. My emails do not promote VolleyballMag.com but are intended to elicit info from you about your club or team so that we can promote what you, your teams and players are doing.

To get on the lists, which takes only a few seconds, use these links:

Club directors and administrators — http://eepurl.com/hn9kab

Club volleyball coaches — http://eepurl.com/hn9qgr

Video clip of the day … I call this one “Clout and Shout” – Ella Rud, a 6-0 senior OH playing for AZ EVJ 18N-Tempe (and committed to Fresno State), absolutely crushes an inside set and celebrates with obvious joy with all of her teammates (I LOVE the joy part!).

Photo of the day — This is sophomore OH Ashley Hall, playing for Jacksonville Skyline 16 Royal, going superman to keep a ball alive. Check out the intensity on the faces of her teammates! Photo by Emma Hernesman, the club’s director’s daughter!

• Here now is suggestion No. 5 from Hall of Fame coach Terry Pettit’s “Ten Suggestions for Coaches,” which can be found, in full, at https://terrypettit.com/:

5. Encourage communication with every contact of the ball. Whether or not a player calls for the ball is as important as whether or not she can make a fundamentally sound play. Communication has to be trained.

• “Fin, noggin, dude!” — Check out this video clip of sophomore middle Brooke Bultema, playing for Elevation 17-Crofton, taking the set from Katelyn Brown and going off of one foot with a crank inside the 10-foot line, right to an opponent’s head. Happy to report that the young lady absorbing the blow was fine and continued to play. Not sure I would have …

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