Daily Dots (April 12, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)
• Happy Monday! The NCAA Division I volleyball championships start this week! Have you seen the college content flooding VolleyballMag.com? Check it out! You can feel the passion for the sport flowing through every word!
I like making predictions. So even though I am not actively following the college game – three jobs and a kid playing college baseball limit my fandom time – I’m going to make a pick. It’s not bold in any way, but I’ve liked Wisconsin for the last year. Dana Rettke is the most unique player in college volleyball, Sydney Hilley has a ferocity at the setter position I just love and freshmen Devyn Robinson and Jade Demps have come in and rounded out a roster that already had too much talent.
Wisconsin has three times in its history made the national semifinals, including in 2019. Three times the Badgers have advanced to the national championship match, twice during the Kelly Sheffield era. The team has yet to win. This is the year. With Grace Loberg, Molly Haggerty, Lauren Barnes and Dani Hart starring alongside the four above, Wisconsin cuts down the nets on April 24. You can bank on it!
• Speaking of predictions, on Friday I predicted the outcomes of the three Open divisions at the Northeast Qualifier and the three Open divisions at the Show Me qualifier. I did not predict what would happen in 18 Open at Sierra National in Reno, because, well, I forgot that it was ongoing. If that doesn’t make me enough of a dope already, let’s examine how I did with the predictions I actually made in our weekly “genius or dope” section.
Let’s start at NEQ. In the 17 Open division, I correctly predicted that TAV 17 Black would win the 30-team qualifier and I correctly predicted that Academy Volleyball Cleveland 17 Rox Red would earn a bid. Genius!
I also predicted that Academy 17 Diamond and 1st Alliance 17 Silver would get bids. 1st Alliance made it to Gold and would have qualified, but lost to Triangle 17 Black, which did. Academy Diamond got eliminated on Day 2, also by Triangle. Dope!
NKYVC 17-1 Tsunami, meanwhile, survived a 1-2 Day 2 and defeated Metro 17 Travel on Day 3 to take the third bid.
In the 16 Open division, I picked 1st Alliance 16 Silver to win, with bids going to Sunshine 16-LA, TAV 16 Black and Metro 16 Travel. Not only did TAV win, it also defeated 1st Alliance for the title. Sunshine also qualified, but Metro did not. It fell in a bid match to NKYVC 16-1 Tsunami. All in all, pretty good picking by me in a 28-team field.
In 15 Open, I stated on Friday that the Puerto Rican teams were a wild card. Sure enough, one, Capitanas 15-1, challenged for a bid. It fell short, however, to TAV 15 Black, which went on to defeat NKYVC 15-1 Tsunami for the title. I picked NKYVC to win it all over TAV. So while I got the bid winners right, I was wrong on the order. Genius or dope? I’ll let you decide on that one.
• Turning to Show Me, in 17 Open, I had Sunshine 17-LA to bid AND win, with Club Ignit Select 17 Blue and Dallas Skyline 17 Royal getting the other bids. Ignit and Skyline both made it to the Gold pools but finished one place out of a bid. In Ignit’s case, the bid was lost by four points, 15-11 in the third, to Dynasty Academy 17 Adidas. In Skyline’s case, Kirk Perry’s team lost out on the bid to Mizuno Northern Lights 17-1 by a single set, despite finishing in a three-way tie for first (and last) at 1-1 in a three-team pool. Lights beat Skyline head-to-head, so the ultimate result probably was just.
In 16 Open, I said previously-qualified KC Power 16-1 would win and it did, just not in the dominating fashion it expected. I predicted bids to Premier Nebraska 16 Gold, Topeka Impact 161 and Dallas Skyline 16 Royal, and went two-for-three. Mizuno Northern Lights 16-1 won the last bid on point percentage from MAVS KC 16-1, barely. Lights also was the team to oust my pick, Topeka Impact, on Day 2.
In 15 Open, I picked previously-qualified Dynasty 15 Black to win it all. That turned out to be way wrong! Instead, the other two teams with bids,
KC Power 15-1 and Rockwood Thunder 15 Elite, battled in the final, with Power taking the title. The bids went to Premier Nebraska 15 Gold and Circle City 15 Purple, which I predicted; and Six Pack 15, which I did not. My pick for the third bid, NORCO 15 Black, did not do well in Kansas City, winning only two out of seven matches. The thought here is that’s an aberration for an otherwise talented young team.
An aside about Sierra National in Reno, were I picked, there’s no chance I would have correctly predicted the 18 Open order of AZ Sky 18 Gold, OJVA 18-1 Gold and Rage Westside 18-Jen, not in a field that included two qualified teams and the likes of WAVE 18 Kevin and Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar playing for bids. I may know a lot about the sport, but not that much!
• There are four available At-Large bids to the 18 Open division at 18s Junior Nationals in Columbus at the end of the month. I anticipate the bids will be conferred sometime this week. Eliminating those teams that play AAUs exclusively, like Munciana Samurai, SPVB 18 Elite, FaR Out 18 Black, VC Nebraska 18 Elite and VC United 181 Elite, there appear to be 11 viable teams for the four open spots:
1st Alliance 18 Silver
Excel 18 National Red
KC Power 18-1
Legacy Adidas 18-1
MichioChicago 18 National
Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar
Rancho Valley 18 Premier
Rockwood Thunder 18 Elite
San Gabriel Elite 18 Roshambo
The Academy 18E Rage
WAVE 18 Kevin
Since I haven’t been covering the 18s continuously from the beginning of the season, it would be unfair to opine about which teams are MOST deserving. All of these teams would be competitive. Let’s see how it plays out…
• A grand total of 44 bids have been or will be conferred this weekend (if you include today), including 15 American at Lone Star, where Alamo 15 Elite and Xcel Volleyball 151 are in the finals today seeking that lone bid. Each team is 10-0 and has yet to drop a set!
• Last week, I asked volleyball coaches on my email list to distribute a bunch of questions for players to answer in a “Three Contacts With…” series. I am receiving a lot of submissions I am happy to say! Today, I present… “Three Contacts With Kathryn Randorf.” Kathryn is a 6-1 Class of 2022 OH/MB on the Academy Volleyball Cleveland 17 that qualified in 17 Open in Philly this past weekend. She also helped Gilmour Academy win an Ohio state championship this past fall, when she was named First Team All-State. Kathryn picked these three questions to answer:
Q: What Olympic sport do you think you’d be the worst at and why?
KR: I believe that I would be the worst at gymnastics because of my height and inflexibility. At 6-1, I am definitely much taller than the average gymnast and my most flexible move is touching my toes. When I was younger, I thought I would be amazing on the uneven bars but thankfully my parents steered me away from gymnastics toward sports more suited to my abilities.
Q: What kind of coach gets the best out of you as a player?
KR: A coach who holds me accountable and has high expectations. When a coach expects a lot from me, I am reminded to continue to do all of the little things needed to be a better player and teammate. This approach has also taught me to be more disciplined, which helps me be the best athlete I can be.
Q: What’s the best thing about being you? What’s the hardest?
KR: The best thing about being me is all the wonderful people I have in my life. I have an amazing family, including my parents, brother, aunt and grandparents. I go to a great school, where I am supported by my teachers and other students. Volleyball has introduced me to a community of people from around the country including some of my very best friends. One of the hardest things about being me is dealing with my dyslexia. I have to work extra hard to succeed academically, but I have learned to overcome challenges to achieve my goals.
• Here’s the “Are you kidding me” Video of the Week.
In the Academy Volleyball Cleveland portion of Dots, check out this DOUBLE kick dig from AVC 16 White in a play over the weekend versus Eastside Cleveland 16-2 at the OVR Qualifier. The reaction time is so impressive! The first contact was by libero Avery Krause. The first kick was by MB Sarah Kepreos, with setter Cassie Shaw defying physics on the second kick to put the ball over the net. AVC won the point on a net call and a bid to Junior Nationals!
• Volleyball played well is absolutely beautiful to watch. Check out the match point swing by RS Emma Parker for Rockwood Thunder 15 Elite in its 15-13 Game 3 win over Dynasty 15 Black in 15 Open at Show Me this past weekend. Olivia Hasbrook makes the pass to setter Alyssa Nelson to sets behind her head to Parker for the definitive final point in the battle between two of the best 15s teams in the nation.
• I asked this morning for reports from teams making news this weekend outside of a national qualifier. Kara Pratt of Houston Juniors 18 Elite sent me a text about her team’s 18 Open Tour of Texas final with national No. 1 and undefeated TAV 18 Black. It ended in TAV’s favor, 23-25, 26-24, 16-14.
“It was the most high level, most competitive match I have ever coached against TAV,” Pratt said.
I am waiting on more details…
I have time and room for a couple of other highlights and will sprinkle more in over the week.
SPVB 18 Elite, No. 3 nationally, won Bluegrass Week 2 in Louisville this past weekend, defeating No. 24 Elevation 18 Goller in the final.
“Main contributors to this weekend were our setter, Zayna Meyer; outside, Ariel Amaya; opposite, Ella Wrobel; libero, Morgan Rank; and middles, Ellie Watson and Audrey Rome,” coach Seth Salmon said. “They all put up big numbers and plays this weekend that contributed to our final outcome. Winning this tournament keeps us on the right track towards our ultimate goal. [He didn’t say it but it’s winning AAU Nationals]. Our next stop will be the Showdown in the Smokies tournament.”
Austin Skyline 16 Black traveled to the Final Countdown in Buda, Texas, and went 6-0 without dropping a set. Lily Prevatt, the team’s 5-10 MB, went on an 18-point service run on our first day.
“I am incredibly proud of these young women and I think they deserve to have a shout out!” said coach Reily Buechler, who introduced herself to me in the email, like I wouldn’t remember she was part of “Team DNA” for Torrey Pines HS and WAVE VBC and a standout at UCLA.
Austin Skyline 17 Black also took home a championship at the Final Countdown, downing Austin Juniors 17 Elite for the title. So, in the final countdown, that’s two championships for Austin Skyline!
• Here now is suggestion No. 9 from Hall of Fame coach Terry Pettit’s “Ten Suggestions for Coaches,” which can be found, in full, at https://terrypettit.com/:
9. We may have to teach some of our players how to compete. Compete means keeping score. Compete means setting goals in drills so that the players have accountability for how long a drill lasts.