Daily Dots (May 25, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)

• Welcome to my “Occasional Dots,” a semi-regular article for VolleyballMag.com that differs from the Daily Dots articles I’ve been writing since February in one respect:

It does not come out every day, Monday through Friday, without fail.

• There are three principal reasons I’ve gone from “Daily” to “Occasional:”

1. Our home is being renovated for sale and it’s been complete chaos for the past month and promises to be for another month. As I type this, we have painters, shower installers and handymen in various parts of the house. Our family lived in our basement, where my office is, for two weeks and moved up to the top two floors on Saturday. It’s a particular challenge for me, since I am now working in my kitchen!

2. Our travel schedule is hectic. The Stanford baseball season, and Tim’s collegiate, is winding down. Last weekend, we drove three hours each day to watch the Cardinal win two of three at Oregon. This Thursday through Saturday, capped by Senior Day, Stanford hosts Oregon State. Next weekend, the Cardinals will host a Regional tournament and the weekend after that will be Super Regionals, if Stanford advances, either at home or somewhere else; or college graduation if Stanford does not. Tim will graduate with a 3.52 GPA and a degree in Communication. SO proud of him!

3. My daily efforts have not been sufficiently supported by the volleyball community. I have asked for your support at the end of my articles, because VolleyballMag.com wants all content to remain free; and not nearly enough people have contributed the suggested $10-$12 annually. Moreover, I have reached out to 100 or more of my club director friends, some of whom have offered to help and contributed themselves, but most of whom have looked the other way. I need more people to contribute so I can continue to give the club volleyball scene the national in-depth coverage it deserves …

• The 15s divisions at the Pacific Northwest Qualifier in Spokane last weekend wrapped up qualifier season in 2021. Mizuno Long Beach 15 Gold, the only previously-qualified team in the field, won 15 Open. The field was tiny – just 12 teams – but because 27 or 28 reportedly registered initially, PNQ was able to confer three bids. That meant every team, if equally talented, had a 3 in 11 chance to qualify. Because there are stronger teams and weaker teams in every field, it meant that the stronger teams had a 50% chance or better of going home with a bid, odds that are practically unheard of in Open qualifying, where teams spend thousands of dollars going to three and four events to chase a bid.

• A total of seven bids were conferred between the Open, USA and American divisions. San Gabriel Elite 15 RoShamBo, Vision 15 Gold and Absolute Pink 15-2 did enough to earn Open bids, HJV 15 Premier, AJV 15 Molten and NorCal 15 Black captured USA bids and Victory 15 Elite Green won the 15 American division to snag that lone available bid.

We will share their stories in a future Dots, perhaps this week …

Absolute 16 Black earned a 16 Open bid at PNQ the week before last. Head coach Katie Pease could not get a report to us before this weekend due to unfortunate and tragic circumstances gripping the Absolute family the past couple of weeks, with the passing of a coach from a brain seizure and the deaths of two volleyball dads, one from Covid, one a few days ago in a motorcycle accident.

“We have all been in a major fog just trying to navigate everything,” said club director Konrad Ott.

Volleyball is important. But life is much more so. Our thoughts, hearts and well wishes go out to Absolute and the families of those impacted.

• Absolute 16 Black earned its 16 Open bid in the face of two of the three tragedies.

“Our game plan was to unite together to honor our losses and earn the Open bid, while taking it one point at a time,” Coach Pease said. “The team impressively played their best volleyball of the season and proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, no matter the tremendous circumstances they may be facing. They amazed themselves, their parents and coaches with their ability to unite for something greater than themselves, all while being down two players. They are true champions.”

Absolute won its first six matches in straight sets to get to the Gold pools, then lost a tough, three-set match to tourney runner up Sudden Impact 16 Thunder in its first Gold matchup. The loss created a do-or-die match versus Idaho Crush 16 Hartman. The winner would clinch second in the pool and a bid. The loser would be on the outside looking in.

Absolute dropped the first set, 25-23. It won the next two, 25-7, 15-12, clinching a bid, then was very impressive in sweeping Vision 16 Gold for third place.

Pease lauded several players for getting the team to the finish line in Spokane.

“Our fierce leader and setter, Kaley Matthews, set a fast tempo offense that was unstoppable. She led our team in blocks and created confusion on the defensive end with her decision making and athleticism. Outsides Emma McDermott and Maria Bodor were terminating forces, along with Brooke Brilliant’s speed in the middle, hitting over .500 on the weekend.  The defense was led by libero Tehani Ulufatu and Opposite Kiara Fortenberry.”

• We finish for today by lightening the mood with … wait for it … volleyball jokes. We asked coaches to share their favorite volleyball jokes. One coach responded that there weren’t any. A couple of other coaches replied by naming recent qualifiers that have had their share of missteps. Below are two jokes we received from our request. We finish up with some that I made up in my “dad jokey” kind of way.

— A referee walks into the hospitality room after refereeing a match. He looks at his phone and says, “Wow, four missed calls!” The coach of the losing team says, “See! Even your phone thinks so!”

— A player continues to struggle mastering volleyball skills. She keeps asking the coach how to get it done. The coaches teaches the player again and again. Eventually, the player gets really frustrated and ask the coach in a loud voice, “Coach, what I’m doing wrong?” “Playing volleyball!” the coach quickly responds

— Why did the middle blocker quit her job as a roofer? She could only put up a single shingle.

— Why did the coach send the chicken bacon ranch sandwich towards the scorer’s table? She wanted to put a sub in the game.

— Why was the DS forbidden from pontificating on the court? She didn’t have a good enough platform.

— Why did the middle blocker go to the playground? Her coach told her to run the slide.

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