Daily Dots (April 19, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)
• Dots are coming to you today from Phoenix, where yesterday Stanford won the rubber game of the baseball series with Arizona State thanks to a grand slam off the bat of Timothy Tawa. Tim’s in his last year with the Cardinal and California will not allow out-of-state residents to attend live sporting events without being fully vaccinated (which I am not yet). If the state of Arizona will let my wife and me into a stadium to watch our kid play, we gotta be there!
• Flying out tonight would have been prohibitively expensive, so we booked our flight home for tomorrow evening. At the crack of dawn, hours before this gets put up, we will barrel north in our rented Tiguan to Sedona to hike Cathedral Rock and take in the wonders of the Red Rock area!
• Thanks to Aspire’s Beth Nuneviller for letting me borrow her car for a few days while I was in Arizona and she was back in Omaha watching daughter Brooke Nuneviller play in the NCAAs for Oregon (Oregon lost in four to Purdue on Sunday). The rental car rates at Sky Harbor Airport were $120/day even for a subcompact. Too rich for my blood.
But check this out! To rent a car on Sunday for a day, to go to Sedona, was just $47! I booked a midsize to avoid putting wear and tear on Beth’s car. At 6 p.m. yesterday, I presented myself at the rental car facility to discover that the line to get my car was THREE AND ONE-HALF HOURS LONG!!!!! There were, literally, 120 people in line in front of my and four agents handling the rentals for Hertz, Alamo and Thrifty.
This wasn’t the only long line. It was almost as long at Fox. Fortunately, there was no line at Sixt and it had a car, albeit for $177 per day. I had to take it. No way was I going to stand in line all night!
If you’re flying into Phoenix, beware. The Sixt agent says this has been going on for a few months now and sometimes the line is five hours long! You might want to think twice before renting a car at the airport in Phoenix for the foreseeable future.
• Before I left for Phoenix, I made some predictions about what would happen at the Lone Star Qualifier this past weekend in the 17 Open, 16 Open and 15 Open divisions. I think it’s safe to say that these were my worst predictions for my 20+ year career in volleyball.
About the only thing I got right was predicting that 17 Open would yield just two bids because of how many previously-qualified teams were in the field. I picked Adversity 17 Adidas to win this. Instead, it was TAV 17 Black going back to back, with Adversity tying for third.
I correctly stated that Rockwood Thunder 17 Elite would earn a bid, but picked Coast 17 Rodrigo, not Houston Skyline 17 Black, to take home the second bid. Coast won its first five but lost its sixth, which created a three-way tie at 2-1 for first in its Day 2 pool. Unfortunately for Coast, it finished third in the tiebreaking analysis.
Kudos to Houston Skyline Black. Not only did it earn a bid as a second team, it finished ahead of its vaunted Houston Skyline 15 Royal first team!
• In 16 Open, I said Alamo 16 Premier would win and qualify. It did neither and finishing tied for ninth. Instead it was national No. 2 Drive Nation 16 Red winning a second qualifier in as many weeks.
I predicted the other two bid recipients would be Infinity 16 Adidas and Dynasty 16 Black. Neither of those teams even made it to the Gold pools. The bids instead went to Woodlands Revolution 16 Premier, Madfrog 16 National Green and a Hive 16 Gold team I wrote wasn’t yet ready to contend.
So, basically, I was wrong, wrong, wrong about EVERYTHING!
• In 15 Open, I predicted a Madfrog 15 National Green win, with bids to Alamo 15 Premier, 575 VB 15-Kortney and the winner of Houston Skyline 15 Royal and Houston Juniors 15 Elite. These picks were every bit as terrible as 16 Open. Dynasty 15 Black defeated the Frogs for the title. Excel 15 National Red, AJV 15 adidas and Dallas Skyline 15 Royal took home the bids. My picks finished ninth, tenth and T-15.
• Remember my rule? If you qualified at a national qualifier, we want to tell your story, even if it’s a little tardy. In that spirit, let’s talk about TAV 18 Blue, which went 10-0 to win 18 USA at Big South earlier this month.
TAV coach Jonathan Daclison said that his team was in a good place heading to Atlanta for Big South.
“We had double qualified, and my coaching staff and players had an ‘all in’ mentality with the goal of winning the tournament,” he said.
TAV Blue did exactly that, going 10-0 to win the title. The team was tested in its final two matches, both of which went the distance. TAV edged SKEVA 181, 15-13, in the semifinals, before defeating Rio VC 18 Spider, 15-12, in the finals.
“We knew that it would not be easy to attain our goal,” Daclison said. “We played some very good teams, especially the last two matches of the tournament.”
Daclison said that he has a squad of 10, all of whom are hard workers and each of whom contributed to the team’s win in Atlanta.
Caleigh Enax is a team captain, passes serve, is a strong leader and plays exceptionally in six rotations. Damiana “DD” Bova-Ford is the other captain and the team’s amazing setter. Pin hitter Aryn Walten is strong overall and brings contagious energy to the floor. Pin Price Reeves delivers firepower and Addison Corley terminates from the right. Middle Jill Connell brings electric energy to the team and is strong at the net, as is Laura Brambilla, who is tenacious and delivers with a superfast arm swing. Daclison described libero Katie Le as “Sonic the Hedgehog.” She’s one of the best liberos nationally and leads the team in digs and perfect passes. Setter Lizzie Reed and utility Trinity Carruthers come off the bench ready to contribute to the team’s overall success.
• In a Friday Dot about 15 Open at Show Me, I mentioned that Shannon Smolinski of Premier Nebraska 15 Gold hadn’t yet sent in a report. That was inaccurate. In reality, I was foiled by my own spam filter! Apologies to Shannon and her team. Here’s a Dot just for you.
Premier Nebraska was ready to qualify early in the season.
“After getting their Open Bid last year at Crossroads and then having the season shortly after taken away, this group was eager to earn the Open Bid again as 15s,” Smolinski said.
Premier won seven straight matches, only one of which went three, to clinch a bid with one match left in Gold pool play.
“We were very proud of the team’s day-to-day and match-to-match approach,” Smolinski said. “As a team we were focused to do our job one day at a time and as team they answered that task.”
Smolinski said that sweeping Mizuno Northern Lights 151 on Day 2 was key.
“We executed a solid game plan and played very clean on our side,” she explained. “Winning that match in two sets is when I knew we had a good opportunity to meet our goal of getting to the top three.”
After beating HPSTL 15 Royal on Sunday to clinch a bid, Premier Nebraska went looking for a spot in the final versus previously-qualified Rockwood Thunder 15 Elite. Smolinski’s team won the first set handily, but could not close out Rockwood and finished T-3, with bid in hand.
“All 10 of our girls came through in big moments and made big plays for us at Show Me,” Smolinski said. “Our back row was solid all weekend, making it easy for our MBs, Mia Tvrdy and Morgan Bode, to be active and efficient. Lauren Medeck (OH) and Reagan Hickey (S) both led our team as co-captains and really did a tremendous job of carrying that weight in six-rotation roles.”
• “Three Contacts with Breanah Rives.” Rives is a 6-0 sophomore outside who’s in the USAV HP pipeline and averaged five kills and three digs per set at Seacrest Country Day last fall. She picked these three questions to answer:
Q: Who is your celebrity crush and why?
BR: Noah Flynn from ‘The Kissing Booth’ is my celebrity crush. In the movie, he is always watching over Ella, a cute, quirky family friend. He is super funny and so good looking; an athlete and so pretty perfect in my book!”
Q: What about going to college scares the bejeebers out of you?
BR: College is so exciting to think about but also one that scares the bejeebers out of me! I plan to play volleyball in college. When I hear from friends that are already there about how tough college is and the rigors of playing a sport and being away from your family, and not having them close, it is scary.
Q: If you could be any professional athlete for a week, who would it be and what would you do?
BR: If I could be any professional athlete for a week, I would be Jordan Larsen, and I would, of course, play volleyball in the Olympics. She’s amazing!
• Katie Goldhahn, who coached Encore 18 Goldhahn to an Open bid in her team’s first competition of 2021, has a pretty impressive club history as a player. As a sophomore in high school, Goldhahn, playing for Delta Valley VBC, won a Gold Medal in JOs in 18 Open. That team, coached by HS legend Bret Almazan-Cezar, was stacked, with seniors like Sara McGee (Stanford), Nicole Davis (USC) and Jacque Robinson (Florida).
One year later, Goldhahn, who eventually went to Stanford herself, led Delta Valley to a first place finish in 18s at the Volleyball Festival (Davis). Just a few days later, the team finished third in 17 Open at JOs.