The biggest and grandest junior girls volleyball tournament outside of the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships and AAU National Championships is the Triple Crown Sports NIT this weekend in Kansas City.

The three-day event starts Saturday and features most of the top clubs from around the country. And, accordingly, many of the top players.

We preview the best of the best — Power Pool As. Those are the pools the likely winners are going to come from. Since adding this power pool format five years ago, only one team in the 15-18s age groups has brought home the tournament title from outside Power Pool A. That was last year, when Premier Nebraska 15 Gold rose up and captured gold in 15 Elite after starting off in Power Pool B. The team Premier Nebraska beat — CIS 15M (which is now Club Ignit) — came from Power Pool C. Other than that, the rest of the winners the past four years have come from Power Pool A.

What will this year’s event deliver in that sense?

18s Elite
Power Pool A
TAV 18 Black
Houston Skyline 18 Royal
Coast 18-1
Mintonette Sports m.81
MAVS KC 18-1
Munciana 18 Samurai
Legacy 18-Adidas
Sky High Adidas 18 Black
Outlook — The 18s take on a different feel from the rest of the divisions based on the fact there’s already been qualifying happening for the last month. It especially stands out in Power Pool, where Mintonette, Coast, MAVS, Legacy and Sky High have all punched their tickets to the USAV 18 Open championships in early May in Reno. Mintonette — led by 6-4 RS Emily Londot (Ohio State), 6-3 OH Raina Terry (Illinois) and 6-0 S Scottee Johnson (Michigan) — finished on top of the fields in Nashville and Columbus without dropping a match. Sky High stayed home and qualified in January in Chicago and now gets a chance to prove itself against another qualified foe in MAVS. The Kansas City club also stayed home and earned a bid by winning the MLK KC Qualifier. There was only one bid there but MAVS is an experienced group and it showed to start the year. MAVS is guided by junior setter Kendra Wait (Creighton). She has familiar options in 6-3 middle Caroline Crawford (Kansas) and 5-10 middle Kim Whetstone (Kansas). Along with seeing Sky High, MAVS faces Munciana as well as Legacy. Legacy was in Chicago with Sky High. Legacy needed to win the third-place match there to qualify, but backed that up by taking second behind Mintonette in Columbus recently. Alexa Rousseau (Northwestern), a 6-3 setter, is part of the package for Legacy, which also includes high-flying outside Kendall Murray (Michigan). Legacy faces a challenging Saturday, facing MAVS, Coast and Houston Skyline. Coast is also qualified, having finished first recently at the January Thaw in Minneapolis. We’ve talked about Coast plenty. The big, physical team includes 6-3 Maddie Endsley (Washington), 6-6 MB/RS China Rae Crouch (Arizona), 6-4 middle Layla Blackwell (Indiana) and 6-4 middle Lindsey Miller (Notre Dame). Houston Skyline has not participated in a qualifier yet and enters with one of the most exciting players in the country in 6-2 OH Madi Skinner (Kentucky). Reagan Rutherford (Kentucky), a 6-0 S/RS, will have her hands involved a lot as well. That we’ve kept last year’s defending age group champion TAV until last shows the ridiculous strength of the pool. TAV has not tested the qualifying waters yet either but surely arrives as the de facto team to beat. Added to this year’s roster is 6-1 OH Jenna Wenaas (Minesota). She was part of TAV winning 18 Open last year and adds a lively arm on the outside. TAV is another big, physical team featuring 6-3 RS Iman Ndiaye (UCLA), 6-4 MB Nnedi Okammor (Flordia) and 6-5 middle Leilah Smith (Stanford). TAV will face Mintonette is one of the most anticipated matches. It’s a rematch of last year’s 17 Open final. Coast and Mintonette also face off in another highly-anticipated showdown between qualifier winners. Mintonette also faces Houston Skyline, the team Mintonette defeated in the 17 Open semifinals last summer in Indianapolis. The depth of the pool is a team like Mintonette which has gone undefeated at two qualifiers so far could go 0-3 on Saturday in Kansas City. That’s what makes the opening day such an exciting one.
Power Pool B
Adversity 18 Adidas
Milwaukee Sting 18 Gold
FaR Out 18 Black
A5 Mizuno 18 Scott
Top Select 18 Elite Blue
NPJ 18-1 Forefront
KC Power 18-1
HJV 18 Elite
Power Pool C
Adidas KiVA 18 Red
Elevation 18 Butcher
VCNebraska 18 Elite
Wave 18 Kevin
AZ Storm 18 Thunder
Skyline 18 Royal
EC Power KOP 18 Royal
Power Pool D
Tstreet 18 Mike
MN Select 18-1
Vision 18 Gold
Rockwood Thunder 18 Elite
Excel 18 National Red
Club V 18 Ren
Ku’Ikahi 18 Wahine RSB
AVC Clev Rox 18 Red
17s Elite
Power Pool A
A5 Mizuno 17 Jing
TAV 17 Black
Co Jrs 17 Kevin
Tstreet 17 Naseri
Premier Nebraska 17 Gold
Sunshine 17 Westside
Coast 17-1
Houston Skyline 17 Royal
The excitement surrounding this pool is real. The overall depth is right there with some of the best one’s Triple Crown has produced. Anywhere one looks there’s bound to be something intriguing going down. Tstreet is the defending age group champ after winning a USAV gold medal in 16 Open a season ago. The remaining teams are all equipped to dislodge the So Cal club and claim the throne. It’s almost a guarantee a team from this pool goes on to win Triple Crown. And the same team or another from this pool claims Open gold this summer. They’re that good. Tstreet is largely the same group featuring 6-3 middle Brianne Albright (BYU), 6-2 RS/MB Katelyn Smith (USC) and 6-1 OH Elyse Stowell (BYU). As has been custom, Tstreet faces TAV on Saturday. The sides have plenty of history and will add more to it. TAV has essentially the same roster as well. It features 6-2 middle Jordyn Williams (Kentucky), 6-0 middle Tyrah Ariail (USC) and outsides Charitie Luper (UCLA) and Natalie Glenn (Minnesota), as well as newcomer and outside Lyric Stewart (Georgia). Tstreet also has bouts with A5 and Premier Nebraska. A5 upped its roster by adding 6-1 middle Ngozi Iloh to go with returning 6-4 MB Jacque Boney (Michigan). Setter Kalissa Greene will get both involved as much as she can. Premier Nebraska offers a different challenge in containing 6-3 OH Lindsay Krause (Nebraska). Setter Phyona Schrader (Notre Dame) also has 6-2 Norah Sis (Creighton) on the left as well. As TAV, the Texas club has remaining matches against Co Jrs and Sunshine. Like A5, Co Jrs elevated its roster by adding 6-2 S/RS/OH Anjelina Starck (Penn State) to the lineup. She could be the piece that pushes Co Jrs to the next level. That’s because the club already had players like 6-1 OH Riley Simpson (Baylor), 6-7 MB Carter Booth (Minnesota) and 5-10 S Peyton Dunn (Oklahoma) as part of the foundation. Sunshine has hit the podium at the GJNC three years running and can never be counted out. Taylor Simpson (Colorado), a 6-0 setter, has a couple of sophomores as targets in 5-11 OH Elia Rubin and 6-0 RS Kerry Keefe. The two remaining teams are Houston Skyline and Coast. The pair play each other on Saturday. Coast carries 6-4 MB Samantha Francis and 6-3 MB/OH Colby Neal (Oregon) to throw at opponents. Meanwhile, Houston Skyline has plenty of options to turn to. Some of them include 6-3 MB Cimone Woodard (Texas A&M) and 6-3 OH Bria Woodard (Texas A&M).
Power Pool B
Northern Lights 17-1
OT 17 Felix
Milwaukee Sting 17 Gold
HJV 17 Elite
AVC Clev Rox 17 Red
Mintonette Sports m.71
Skyline 17 Royal
Wave 17 Rachel
Power Pool C Teams
Tri-State Elite 17 Blue
Rockwood Thunder 17 Elite
Michigan Elite 17 Mizuno
Adversity 17 Adidas
KC Power 17-1
AZ Storm 17 Thunder
Sunshine 17 South Bay
Top Select 17 Elite Blue
Power Pool D Teams
Academy 17 Tsunami
1st Alliance 17 Silver
Elevation 17 Goller
Fusion 17 Red
A5 South 17 Joe
Vegas Aces 17 Under Armour
Madfrog 17 Green
OT 17 Brian
16s Elite
Power Pool A
Houston Skyline 16 Royal
Madfrog 16 Green
AZ Storm Elite 16 Thunder
Mizuno Long Beach 16 Rockstar
A5 Mizuno 16 Gabe
1st Alliance 16 Silver
OT 16 Roberto
Premier Nebraska 16 Gold
In the 15-18s age groups, no team outside of Power Pool A had captured the title at Triple Crown until Premier Nebraska broke through last season and won 15 Elite after starting off in Power Pool B. Outsides Madison MacTaggart and Skylar McCune are among the returners looking to get Premier Nebraska back in position to defend its crown. Premier’s first day features a revenge match of sorts. Premier Nebraska will face 1st Alliance, which eliminated Premier Nebraska in 15 Open challenge play last year. That prevented Premier Nebraska from playing for a medal. 1st Alliance features returning players like S/OH Katie Hurta (Indiana), outside Paige Pickering and L/DS Gillian Grimes. Premier Nebraska’s opening day also includes Long Beach and Madfrog. Long Beach finished one victory short of a medal in 15 Open in Indy and is mainly made up of the same players. It includes outside Mele Corral-Blagojevich, S/RS Adona Faumuina and middle Rylie McGinest. As for Madfrog, it’s an athletic group that will test Premier Nebraska’s defensive prowess. Among those Madfrog will use on the attack will include right sides Mia Moore and Ana Heath and outside Maya Duckworth. While Premier Nebraska took home the TCS title in 2019, it was Houston Skyline that ultimately took home the 15 Open gold medal in Indy. It’s a slightly different looking lineup but one that still includes setter Maddie Waak and libero Ava Underwood. Houston Skyline will face 1st Alliance and Long Beach, as well as Arizona Storm. The one against Storm is a rematch of the 15 Open final. Storm mostly stayed intact and that includes the high-flying Jordan Middleton on the outside. She’s trouble for every team. OT hit the medal stand, earning a bronze, in Indy last summer and is another team making up Power Pool A. The Florida club has one of the best outside duos in Bri Anderson and Ana Julia Bleeker. OT has a tough day though, having to face Madfrog, Arizona Storm and 1st Alliance. That leaves A5, which plays Long Beach, Madfrog and Arizona Storm. A5 upgraded its roster in hopes of making a push to the podium in 2020. Among the newcomers are L/DS Emma Farrell and middle Marianna Singletary. A5 has its share of options on the pins, including Alexa Markley, Morgan Cobb and Cheridyn Leverette.
Power Pool B
AVC Clev Rox 16 Red
Legacy 16 Adidas
Michigan Elite 16 Mizuno
Club Ignit Select 16 Blue
OT 16 Jason
LoneStar 16 Red
Surfside 16 Legends
Coast 16-1
Power Pool C Teams
Munciana 16 Ninjas
Boomers 16 Black Lisa
OT 16 Isasc
Rockwood Thunder 16 Elite
Dynasty 16 Black
TAV 16 Black
Skyline 16 Royal
Wave 16 Julianna
Power Pool D Teams
HJV 16 Elite
Adidas KiVA 16 Red
TK 16 Soar
Club V 16 Ren
Absolute Black 16-1
AZ Rev 16 Adidas
Sunshine 16 Westside
Excel 16 National Red
15s Elite
Power Pool A
Wave 15 Brent
Tstreet 15 Chris
Adidas KiVA 16 Red
Legacy 16-Adidas
KC Power 16-1
A5 Mizuno 15 Bob
Northern Lights 15-1
Tstreet finished ninth last season in 14 Elite at Triple Crown before going to capture gold in Indy. It’s the same roster as last year so we’ll see all the familiar faces as Tstreet looks to start where it left off. Among those helping toward that goal are pin hitters Julia Waugh, Maia Niemen and Paige Buzzerio, as well as libero Koko Kirsch. Tstreet faces Madfrog, KiVA and Northern Lights on Saturday. Tstreet did not face KiVA last season. KiVA, which took fourth at Triple Crown, went on to finish first in 14 Open at AAUs. KiVA has a lot of returners too, including 6-0 setter Whitney Woodrow, 6-5 middle Gabrielle Curry and 6-4 middle Nya Bunton. On the other hand, Northern Lights’ roster looks different from last and should have the Minnesota club on the rise in 2020. Among the new additions are Stella and Olivia Swenson and they help form a team that boasts a front row of 6-0 or taller players throughout. Legacy is another team that features all front row players 6-0 or taller, including outside Harper Murray. Legacy gets tested on Saturday against Wave, KC Power and A5. Wave took second at last year’s Triple Crown tourney and figures to be improved this spring. One reason why is 6-3 outside Julia Blyashov. She played up on 15s last season but is joining her age group this go around. Wave will need her with an opening day against Northern Lights, KiVA and Legacy.
Power Pool B
Lions 15-1
Skyline 15 Royal
Alamo 15 Premier
Houston Skyline 15 Royal
MAVS KC 15-1
Topeka Impact 15-1
Dynasty 15 Black
AZ Rev 15 Adidas
Power Pool C Teams
W Revolution 15 Premier
Aspire 15 Premier
Elevation 15 Chicas
Munciana 15 Quora
Milwaukee Sting 15 Gold
No Name VBC 15 Sarah
OT 15 J Will
Rockwood Thunder 15 Elite
Power Pool D Teams
Coast 15-1
Drive Nation 15 Red
HJV 15 Elite
TAV 15 Black
PVA 15 Elite
Premier Nebraska 15 Gold
Mintonette Sports m.51
Co Jrs 15 Shannon

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