Tag Archives: AAU Volleyball Junior National Championships

AAU Boys & Girls Volleyball Junior Nationals were a HUGE success

VB celebrate

Lake Buena Vista– The 38th Annual AAU Volleyball Junior National championships have come to a close and what a week it was! After over 1350 teams flocked to Orlando to duke it out on the court, we crowned nine new National Champions in 10u-18 Open divisions.

In the first three National Championship games, it was all about Puerto Rico. Team Vaqueras took the 10u and 12u titles and Vega Baja Volleyball took the 11u National Championship.

In the 13u division, MAVA 13 Elite defeated Asics KIVA 13 Red 25-18, 25-13. The team told us they owe it all to their mascot “Norm” for winning (see the 13u video to see what they mean).

KIVA represented again in the 14u finale and this time was victorious. KIVA 14 Red had big shoes to fill as last year’s 14 team the AAU Volleyball National Championship.  KVIA coasted through the first set, winning 25-17. Team Indiana went on a run in the second, but KIVA was able to dig and close out the game with a 25-23 second set.

TAV had a huge presence in the AAU National Championships, with three teams making it to the 15u, 16u, and 17u finals. It was TAV Rags 15 Balck who brought home the cup for the club by avenging Academy Volleyball Cleveland in three sets, 25-18, 24-26, 15-9.

In the 16u division, TAV Rags 16 Black and 1st Alliance 16 Silver vying for the coveted title. 1st Alliance held off TAV in two sets, winning 27-25, 25-16. It was a very proud moment for the team and their coach since it’s the first year they’ve all played together (see what 1st Alliance’s post- game interview).

Sky High 17 Black Volleyball continued their dominance from last year by defending their 16 national title. They met TAV Rags 17 Black on the main stage and took a dominant first set 25-15. Everyone though Sky High had it in the bag, but TAV sent the match to a third set. Sky High took the third set 15-10, and a second national title.

And for the finale of all finales, it was a rematch from last year’s 18u final– Munciana Samarai vs. Sports Performance 18 Elite. Last year, Sports Performance took the title 25-23, 25-22. It was deja vus from last year. Same score, same amount of sets, same teams, except this year Munciana was the victor. These two storied programs have each won two 18u titles a piece in the past four years.

For all official results from the tournament, including our Club and Classic divisions CLICK HERE.

Check out all the cute photos from the 11-14u award ceremonies HERE

Check out the award ceremonies for 16u Open, 17uu Open, 18u club HERE

While the girl’s national championships were going on, the boys were having a national championships of their own. Guys in 14u-18u division ventured from across the country, even Puerto Rico, to take on top volleyball talent. In the end, we crowned 5 new National Champs. Ocean Bay Volleyball Club from Boynton Beach, Fl took the 17u and 18u national titles. And then it was all Puerto Rico from there. Team Vaqueros took the 16u division, 15u title went to Trujillo Alto Volimax and the 14u championship went to Naranjito Evol 14. For all the official boys scores and results CLICK HERE.

Take a look at the boy’s awards ceremonies HERE.

Thanks to all the parents, coaches and athletes for another amazing National Chamionships!

Thanks to all the parents, coaches and athletes for another amazing National Chamionships!


No experience required: TAV VB Rags 15 Black wins title in first trip to nationals

Originally published on http://rise.espn.go.com

Written by: Nicole Saavedra

Photo by Todd Anerson

Team from Fort Worth, Texas wins tight three-setter over Academy Volleyball Cleveland

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The first time was the charm for the TAV VB Rags 15 Black.

TAV sent its first 15u team to the AAU Junior National Girls’ Volleyball Championships this year at the ESPN RISE Girls Showcase. They’ll return to Fort Worth, Texas with the title after a 25-18, 24-26, 15-9 win over Academy Volleyball Cleveland on Tuesday.

“It’s unbelievable,” Cat McCoy said. “We wanted this all season. We got second in a lot of big tournaments and we wanted to break the curse. It’s an amazing feeling for everyone.”

TAV easily grabbed the first set and looked poised to take the second, but allowed Academy to crawl back in. TAV had a 19-14 lead when Academy won five straight points.

“We really thought we had it, I think, in Game 2 and kind of let it slip away,” head coach Jason Nicholson said. “You could tell the nerves started to get them a little bit, they started to feel like we were going to achieve what they wanted to achieve and kind of let it get away from us a little bit.”

They hit the reset button before starting the third.

“[Coach] told us that we needed to relax and take a breather and not be so tense, because all the cameras and stuff got us all freaked out,” McCoy said. “He told us to take a deep breath and play our game.”

McCoy admits that she got a little nervous after Academy tied it up.

“I was scared for a second, because we wanted it so bad,” McCoy said. “I didn’t want it to slip away. I knew we could tough it up.”

McCoy, who finished the game with 20 digs, may have been rattled, but Kendall Werra wasn’t.

“I knew we could still pull it off and stay together even though we went to the third,” Werra said. “I knew we could win it.”

TAV had survived close matches earlier on Tuesday. They topped Asics Munciana Ninjas 25-21 21-25, 15-10 and earned a 28-26, 20-25, 15-8 win over Asics KIVA 15 Red in the semifinals.

“Munciana and KIVA were tremendous teams and came out, much like Academy, with firepower and kept balls in play,” Nicholson said. “The girls really just stepped it up. We kept ourselves in some rallies, limited mistakes and played good volleyball.”

TAV will try to extend their success at the USAV Nationals in Atlanta, Ga., next week and they’ll have the memory of Tuesday’s win to motivate them.

“We toughed it out through all of our aches and pains, and overall, I’m so proud of us,” Malery Wahlin said. “It was great, it was amazing. The best feeling of my life.”


Munciana Samarai take 18u Title, plan to ‘dance on the tables’

Originally published on: http://rise.espn.go.com

Written by: Walter Villa

Photo by Todd Anderson

Kierra Jones, Morgan Bergren lead way in volleyball win over Sports Performance 18 Elite

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Munciana Samurai middle hitter Kierra “Kiki” Jones wept as she spoke. Moments later, a huge smile framed her face as she discussed the Greek restaurant where her team will celebrate Tuesday’s victory.

Such was the raw emotion that followed a thrilling final match in the 18u open division at the 38th AAU Junior National  Girls’ Volleyball Championships, part of the ESPN RISE Girls Showcase.

Samurai, based in Muncie, Ind., defeated Sports Performance 18 Elite 25-23, 25-22 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

After the match, Jones, a senior who is headed to Purdue this fall, tried to put her team’s victory into words as she stood next to teammate Morgan Bergren.

“We put in hours and hours of work, and I will never be able to play with Morgan ever again,” Jones said, tears flowing. “We all just wanted to make each other a winner.”

Bergren, a rising senior and the team’s setter, was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. She is committed to Kentucky and is the team’s most improved player, according to Samurai  coach Mike Lingenfelter.

“Before the season started, I thought if Morgan developed, we’d have a shot,” Lingenfelter said. “If not, it was going to be a rough road.”

The road has been smooth – evidenced by a 66-3 record this season.

Beating Sports Performance, based in Aurora, Ill., was far from assured, however. Sports Performance had played Samurai in five of the past six AAU Junior National championship matches. The only victory for Samurai before Tuesday came in 2009.

Lingenfelter said he has a friendly relationship with Sports Performance Coach Rick Butler and has been trying to catch up to his peer for the better part of the past decade.

“We consider them our rivals, but I’m not sure the reverse is true,” Lingenfelter said before Tuesday’s final. “I don’t think the hammer considers the nail a rival.”

Still, a dozen sharp nails, all firing in unison, can be a pretty powerful weapon, and that’s what happened on Tuesday.

Sports Performance, taller and broader-shouldered than their opponents, got off to a strong start, blocking Samurai’s attacks.

But the match turned when Samurai, trailing 7-3 in the first set, circumvented the size disadvantage by using their speed.

“Their attack was geared around pressuring the middle of the court, making you make decisions if you’re blocking,” Butler said. “We didn’t react quickly enough. They were faster, and we were half a count behind.

“They also had an experience advantage. Our team is new, and they have six kids who had that experience and were motivated to beat us.”

Ligenfelter said his team was wary of Sports Performance’s size, which included 6-3 Wisconsin recruit Meghan Haggerty, 6-2 Southern Cal commit Emily Young and 6-2 Notre Dame-bound Meg Vonderhaar.

“We tried to stretch it out to the antennas, get away from them a little bit,” Lingenfelter said. “Things loosened up, thank God. Morgan ran a great offense, and Kiki set the tone in the first set.”

In the second set, the teams were tied for the final time at 13-13 before Samurai took control by winning five of the next six points.

“They are incredibly huge,” Bergren said. “We just had to fight.”

Bergren, who is 6-1, is familiar with fighting. She has had to do just that to get here.

“I’ve only been a setter for three years,” she said. “I knew that to play at the level, I had to work my butt off.”

Jones said she has witnessed the work her teammate has put in to achieve her goals.

“She goes to passing lessons, setting lessons and then comes to our practices,” Jones said. “It’s ridiculous. I can’t believe how many hours she puts in to be a better setter.”

Now that the players have put in the work and won the championship trophy, the next step is the victory party.

Samurai players showed quite a bit of swagger during the match, but that’s nothing compared to the party they have planned for Tuesday night at an Orlando eatery called Taverna Opa.

“We’re going to ‘Greeks’ and dancing on the tables,” Bergren said happily.

Added Jones: “I’ve never been there, but it’s a Muncie tradition to go there when we win (the final). We’ve been talking about this the whole year. We’re going to have a big celebration.”


Sky High 17 Black sets sights on defending national title

Originally posted on: http://rise.espn.go.com

Written by: Walter Villa

8 of 10 girls are back from 16u national championship team; 9 of 10 are going to D-I schools

ORLANDO, Fla. – Anyone who thought Sky High Volleyball reached its zenith last year clearly hasn’t talked to Scott Harris.

Sky High has won four national titles, including the past two 16-under AAU championships.

But Harris, who founded the club with his wife Sherry in 1989, thinks his 17 Black team is the program’s best yet. That team will continue pool play on Tuesday in the 17u open division at the 38th AAU Junior National Girls’ Volleyball Championships, part of the ESPN RISE Girls Showcase, after going 5-1 over the first two days.
“We’re absolutely better than last year,” Harris said of the team, which is based in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Ill. “Eight of our 10 girls (all rising seniors) were on last year’s (national title 16-under) team. Now they have another year of experience, and we’ve added two excellent players.”

The newcomers are 6-2 middle blocker Daiva Wise, who has committed to Toledo, and 5-10 opposite hitter Mary Striedl, who is bound for Pitt.

That those two players have earned college scholarships is not uncommon for 17 Black. Nine of the 10 players have already committed to Division I schools.

Perhaps that helps explain why 17 Black is seeded second, trailing only Atlanta’s A-5. The rivals split a pair of matches this season, with 17 Black winning in February and A-5 taking the rematch in April.

Harris, though, isn’t overconfident, especially after Sky High lost its third and final match on Monday, falling in straight sets to High Performance of St. Louis 17 Gold.

“This Class of 2012 is extremely competitive,” he said. “There are probably 10 teams who can win this tournament.”

But only one team has 5-10 Abby Gilleland, the Saint Louis-bound setter who powers the 17 Black attack.

“She’s our captain – an amazing athlete and an amazing leader,” Harris said of Gilleland, the MVP of last year’s AAU championships. “If she were not on this team, it would be totally different.”

Gilleland is far from 17 Black’s only standout, however. Amy Dion, a 5-6 defensive specialist who has committed to Maryland, and Ashley Rosch, a 6-0 middle blocker and Illinois State recruit, were named All-Americans last year.

Amelia Anderson, a 6-2 middle blocker who committed to Indiana, made the all-tournament team – along with Rosch – at the 2010 USA Junior Nationals in Reno.

Samantha Boesch, a 6-0 outside hitter, committed to Wake Forest. Amanda Orchard, a 6-1 outside hitter, is bound for Pitt. Melanie Jereb, a 6-1 outside hitter, has pledged to Creighton.

Only Samantha Bohne, a 5-6 defensive specialist, has yet to pick a college.

“It’s a great group of athletes,” Harris said. “We have so much depth. If someone is off, I can make a change, and we don’t miss a beat.”

While there is no denying the team’s talent, Gilleland said the club’s chemistry is what sets it apart.

“We have an incredible bond,” she said. “That’s something you don’t find in every team.”

Anderson said that bond was only enhanced when Wise and Striedl joined the team.

“We took them right into our team,” Anderson said. “We were doing team sleepovers and movie nights with them before the season even started. We love them.”

On the court, the team plays with machine-like precision. If there is a weakness, Gilleland said, it’s on defense.

“We struggled for a long time with our blocking and ball control,” she said. “But we’ve practiced a lot, and we’ve improved incredibly.”

Harris has noticed and admits that even he is surprised by the accomplishments of the overall program, which began in 1989 with four teams. Within five years, they had 30 teams, and Harris decided to leave his finance job to run the club full-time.

“It was a gamble,” Harris said. “But volleyball is a passion of mine.”

Sherry Harris, who had been the volleyball coach at nearby McHenry Junior College, also gave up her job when Sky High took flight.

Today, Sky High has 70 teams at five locations, drawing players from northwest/northern Illinois to southern Wisconsin.

“We’ve really come on strong the past five or six years,” Scott Harris said. “More top athletes are migrating to our program because of our success.”

The big question now is if 17 Black can leave Orlando this week as national champs.

“We’re extremely confident,” Gilleland said, “in a non-cocky way.”

Gilleland said her team struggles at times with “lower teams,”  but motivation won’t be a problem if they play A-5 or any other elite club.

Trying to suppress a smile, Gilleland added: “We love being the underdogs.”


For all things AAU Volleyball follow us on Twitter @AAUVolleyball and LIKE us on Facebook Amateur Athletic Union.


College volleyball coaches share recruiting advice with players, parents

Originally published on: http://rise.espn.go.com/

Written by: Walter Villa

ORLANDO, Fla. – With more than 1,300 volleyball teams and 14,000 players converging at the 38th AAU Junior National Girls’ Volleyball Championships this week, it makes sense that roughly 350 college coaches from all divisions have followed.

Six of those coaches took time out from evaluating talent on Monday afternoon to co-host a one-hour recruiting seminar.

Kathy DeBoer, the executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, was also at the seminar, which was  geared toward helping and educating players and their parents.

Calling volleyball “the most popular sport for women in the world,” DeBoer said there is $200 million available annually to young women who are “smart enough and skilled enough” to play the sport in college.

That figure, which combines scholarship and financial aid, could be boosted by another $50 million in the next 10 years, DeBoer said, once sand volleyball – the NCAA’s term for beach volleyball — takes off.

The head coaches present at the seminar were Mary Wise of Division I Florida; Taylor Mott of Division II Flagler College; Chris Catanach of Division II Tampa; Joslynn Gallop of NAIA Embry Riddle; and Becky Schmidt of Division III Hope.

In addition, the panel also included one assistant coach, Dennis Hohenshelt of Division I Penn State, which has won four straight national championships.

The six coaches took questions from parents and players. Here are five key points that emerged:

1. You don’t have to play Division I to have a good college experience.

This point was driven home, surprisingly perhaps, by Wise of Division I Florida.

“Although Division I gets most of the publicity, there are terrific programs, coaches and opportunities at every level,” said Wise, whose son, Matt, played basketball at Division III Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky.

“I don’t want you to think that your daughter can only excel and can only have a great career if she plays Division I. That’s not true. There are scholarships and national championships at every level, and I encourage you to think outside the box.”

2. Make it personal.

“Don’t send out a mass email to 300 colleges and think you are going to get a great response,” Mott said. “Make an effort to get to know the school you are interested in. Find out about the team and the school.”

Gallop agreed, adding that it’s a turnoff when a prospect says she wants to study a particular major that her school does not even offer.

“Do your research,” Gallop said. “That will let a coach know you are serious.”

3. Recruiting services are not really needed.

“I don’t want to take money out of people’s pockets,” Hohenshelt said. “I think some recruiting services do a terrific job marketing your kids. But I also think your kids can do a terrific job marketing themselves.

“It’s not hard to go online, put together a video and email it to a coach. Whether it’s from a recruiting service or from a kid, I read all the emails. I look at everything.”

4. The bigger the program, the earlier they start recruiting.

When Wise was asked if she looks at sophomores, she said: “I look at sophomores … and freshmen … and eighth-graders … and younger. It’s the way it is. We’ve gotten pretty good at projecting talent.”

Meanwhile, the Division II, NAIA and Division III coaches on the panel said they don’t start recruiting kids until they are juniors or seniors. By that time, most of the top Division I colleges have signed their junior and senior classes and are working on the next group.

5. It’s all about the club.

Gallop said flatly that she does not scout high school games. Part of the reason for that is that high school games conflict with her college season, but another factor is that club tournaments offer the chance to see a prospect play against tougher competition. Club scouting is also a budget-saver since so many players are available at one setting, such as Orlando this week.

The coaches on the panel said it’s still important to play high school volleyball.

Catanach, meanwhile, said selecting the right club team is crucial.

Said Catanach: “Find a club where you can play. Don’t pick a club that is top-notch, and you sit on the bench and hit only during warm-ups.”