the 16s at jos by nuhman10

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									The 16s at JOs
Written by John Tawa
Tuesday, 21 July 2009




No team was looser and had more fun than Iowa Rockets 16R. Here they are engaging in
  the one pyramid scheme going around the convention center that we could endorse.


The 16-year-olds kicked off the 2009 Junior Olympic National Championships and,
for two days, had the stage alone. That gave me the chance to watch this age
division from start to finish, which was a privilege, because it was, by far, the
deepest pool of talent in Miami Beach this year.



16 Open, 16 National and 16 American also had the most coverage while the event
was ongoing, with four articles and extensive message board posts dedicated to this
age group. Hence, the 16s wrap up will be MUCH shorter than the 17s and 18s from
last week.


16 Open


Pool 1


KC Power, the eventual national champion, came out of this pool, as did Synergy and
Front Range. All three finished among the top five, making Pool 1 the only pool to
have three among the final eight.


Power‟s toughest pool play match came against Synergy, the Pennsylvania team that
managed to get its mitts on virtually every attack no matter the team. Game 3 was
the key. After the teams split the first two, a great dig from MB Stacey Manthorpe
and finish from Bailey Dowd helped Synergy pull even at 21-21. Dowd then
combined with Erin Bond on a block to put Synergy ahead 22-21.


Had Synergy held on to win the set, it is possible we would be lauding the Keystone
State kids today as our 16 Open national champs. They would have finished 6-0 in
Pool 1. They would have avoided a Sunday night Challenge match. And they would
have been fresh heading into the Gold quarterfinals on Monday morning.


But Grace Whitley and Shelby Workman got together for a “right back at ya”
block to knot the score in a game Power would eventually win, 28-26, on Workman‟s
tool shot. Winning that set helped the Kansas City squad withstand a Game 4 loss to
win Game 5 going away, a set in which it took a 4-0 lead at the start, then got great
serving and setting from Liz Powell before her dump ended the match.


“My coach had been telling me to dump the ball for five games,” Powell said. “I just
had to do it. It feels awesome.”


The win improved KC Power to 3-0 in the pool and catalyzed its 6-0 finish. Power
was a favorite to win 15 Open a year ago, but fell apart on the first day, finishing 1-
2, and never challenged.


“Getting a fast start is probably the most important thing, because last year we
didn‟t do so well the first day and it put us out of the tournament,” said Powell. “We
really needed to show our ability and effort and prove to everybody that we can play.
Synergy is a great team and a mirror image of us so it was really important to beat
them.”


The other critical match in Pool 1, between Front Range and Sunshine, came right
out of the chute on Day 1. A focus of our live Message Board coverage on Friday, it
proved to be the key match for third in the pool, as the winner advanced to the
Challenge phase while the loser did not.


In that match strong left side play from Emma White and Tara Robinson and
Zbone’s nice work in the back row helped Sunshine to a 2-1 sets lead on the
Coloradoans. But Anna Faul helped Front Range get off quickly in the fourth and
Nicole Dalton and Morgan Gradishar piled on, getting sweet sets from Bailey
Karst. Front Range‟s 25-12 win set the stage for a tense fifth game.


Sunshine built a 10-7 lead in the fifth before Nicole Dalton‟s kill gave Front Range the
serve. An ace from Karlie Dalton and another Nicole Dalton kill, aided by Morgan
Bohl’s stupendous back row defense, tied the set and made it a race to five points.


With the score tied 10-10 in the fifth, here‟s what I wrote on the message board:
“This is just the first match, but this could decide going forward or not.”


How prophetic.


Bohl from the back row staked Front Range to the 11-10 lead, but a serving miscue
knotted the score again. Laura Steiner put the Rangers on top once more with a
free ball kill, only to see White answers with a vicious line shot for Sunshine.


The teams traded points again to get to 13-13, as White delivered after a Sunshine
serving error.


Front Range continued to side out effectively. This time, it was Bohl from the left
who scored to put Front Range on top and deliver the only match point opportunity it
would need. After a Sunshine time out, Steiner‟s serve was mishandled into an
overpass. Karst, a high school hitter, did not miss it. Her kill gave Front Range the
emotional and hard-fought win. Front Range would go on to a T-5 finish. Sunshine
finished middle of the pack in 14th place.


Texas Revolution, TAV Molten and Niagara Frontier all finished 1-5 in the pool and,
like Sunshine, failed to advance.


TRV, which won the SCVA Qualifier, took a set from KC Power in its very first match
and won a five-set thriller from Niagara Frontier. But four sets won and 17 lost does
not paint an accurate picture of this team‟s performance in Miami Beach. They lost
Game 1 to Sunshine by a 30-28 count, two of the three set losses to TAV Molten
were by 25-23 and 30-28 scores and two of the three set losses to Front Range were
by 28-26 and 30-28. TRV wasn‟t really competitive in its loss to KC Power, but they
were in just about every other set and every other match, pretty good for a team
making its first appearance on the big stage at JOs. MB Alicia Dittrich had a nice
tournament.


TAV Molten, Texas Advantage‟s second team, also had a good showing despite its 1-
5 record. The team played hard all the time and had Front Range on the ropes on
Day 3 after three Hunter Porter kills and a Bailey Bunting ace tied Game 5 at 11-
11. But Faul‟s block helped Front Range go on top and the Coloradoans scored the
final four points to secure the critical win. TAV Molten had to wait one more day to
get its highlight win, a sweep of Club Red to finish 17th overall. Libero Katie Neisler
was tremendous all week for Molten. Porter, setters Cassie Wahlin and Mary
Koehler and MB Sara Oxford also had nice moments for this team.


I really enjoyed watching Niagara Frontier play. Yes, the upstate New York team won
just one match during JOs, but this team scrapped and gave complete effort all the
time. Hannah Herc, Emily Litwin and Heather Feldman were among the players
on this team who impressed me with their grit.


Pool 2


The story of Pool 2 was, without doubt, TCA. TCA, which won Crossroads in March,
was a team that many elite teams in its region had figured out by late in the year.
They went 1-2 in pool play during Mandatory 5 and went 0-3 Day 2 during the
regional tournament, finishing 9th overall.


So, how did TCA manage to win its first five pool play matches, losing just two sets
in the process? Coach Mike Hinton said that the key was getting production from
middles Felicia Clement and Lauren Frost. That took some pressure off of go-to
hitters Cassie Strickland and Courtney Castle.


A bigger key, however, may be in the fact that TCA was playing teams in Pool 2 all of
which were outside of California. None had experienced its blitzkrieg approach before
and was unprepared for it.


We can talk about the play of libero Ally Moskitis – she‟s very good and had several
highlight digs – or the fearless attacking of Strickland and Castle, complemented by
6-1 Morgan Boukather, but the reason TCA wins is Jianna Bonomi plain and
simple.


Bonomi, TCA‟s setter, is listed at 5-6, but she‟s more like 5-3 or 5-4. Despite her
height, she was easily the most talked about player among college coaches in 16
Open because her speed/skill/tenacity combination makes her second to no one.
She‟s a blur on the court and plays great defense, she delivers the ball expertly and
scores points in bunches with her serve. Other teams might not like her approach
because she‟s got a nasty streak, but she flat out gets it done. You want her on that
wall. You need her on that wall.


So, if you‟re looking for the reason TCA won Pool 2, look no further than Jianna
Bonomi. Simply awesome.


Second place in the pool went to Texas Tornados. Tornados lost only to TCA and
came up with a huge Day 1 win over TAV. In that TAV match, Caroline Young was
terrific from the right side. Her kill ended Game 1 for Tornados, which split the next
two. In Game 4, kills from Scout Brooks and Savannah Myklebust, assisted by
Emily Sweet, got Tornados within 18-17 of Texas Advantage. Jill Ivy and Daniela
Arenas then scored to give Tornados the lead.


Stephanie Holland tied the game at 19-19 with a kill through the block, but
Tornados were too strong in the end game. Three Young kills and an assist to Arenas
helped Tornados pull away for the win.


That was TAV‟s first loss, but it would not be its last. The No. 2 seed overall, and
winner of the Big South and Lone Star qualifiers, dropped a five-set affair to Iowa
Rockets on Day 2 to square its record at 2-2 going into the last day. The Rockets,
who had played so well in winning the PrepVolleyball.com Classic the week before,
were 0-2 and desperate for a win when they took the court against TAV. After the
teams split the first two sets, Ali Stark’s kill helped Iowa win the third. Natalie
Puckett countered with a kill that gave TAV the fourth.


I wish I could tell you of a hair-raising finish to this one, but the best I can do is
describe a hair pulling finish, the hair pulling being done by TAV coach Jason Tanaka.
The Rockets, who up to this point had established themselves only as the loosest and
most fun loving team in 16 Open, stamped themselves as threats by bolting to an 8-
1 lead in the fifth as TAV self destructed. Stark and Courtney Kintzel were great in
the fifth, with Kintzel‟s final kill securing the 15-6 win.


The Iowa win kick started that team‟s challenge in Pool 2. The Rockets won two more
in succession to fashion a 3-2 mark going into their final match versus Tornados.
That put them in contention for a playoff spot with TAV, which dominated CVC
Sunday morning to go 3-2; and Tornados, which was 4-1 after a morning sweep of
Rockwood Thunder, which won its first two in the pool but dropped its final four.


The fourth loss, to Nebraska Elite in five, prevented Rockwood from squaring its
books at 3-3. Rockwood led that fifth game 6-2 after kills from Culver Randolph,
Helen Boyle and Aubree Smith and extended its advantage to 11-5 on back-to-
back aces from Boyle, a magnificent six-rotation talent. Nebraska Elite, which had
played just about everyone close all tourney long, used a block and kill from athletic
middle Mary Delich to pull within 13-9. Then Nick Schuster‟s team just kept on
going. A kill from powerful attacker Emily Wilson and two aces from impressive
setter Michelle Sicner helped the team known as “Tonka” tie the score. Two more
points, courtesy of Kendall Kritenbrink, gave Nebraska Elite a 7-0 closing run and
the win.


That match didn‟t have any bearing on the chase for the top three spots, however.
Tornados/Rockets, going on at the same time, did. In that one, Iowa started quickly
but soon began to struggle against Tornados‟ athletic block. An ankle injury to setter
Brooke Fessler didn‟t help. After losing meekly in the first two, Iowa Rockets fought
hard in the third. Ali O’Deen was terrific for Iowa, as was Stark. Brooks and Young
were getting the job done for Tornados, which won Game 3, 31-29, on two Rocket
miscues to sweep.


There was despair in the Rocket camp until they learned that a 3-3 mark might still
make the Challenge phase. Rockwood‟s loss meant that both Rockwood and Tonka
were 2-4 and out of contention, along with Cleveland Volleyball Company, which
went 0-6 in Pool 2 before winning its last two matches on Monday. Bridget Grdina
seemed to be having the most success for CVC when I was watching.


TAV was 3-2 but still had to face 5-0 TCA. A loss and TAV would be 3-3 and tied with
Iowa Rockets. The Rockets would get in under that scenario based on the head-to-
head win on Day 2! Rockets players hustled to Court 5 for that 4 p.m. match.


They would leave disappointed.


With TAV playing like the season was in the balance and TCA playing like a team that
had clinched the pool regardless, the outcome was predictable. Katie O’Brien,
Whitney Little and Caylin Mahoney all played exceptionally in TAV‟s sweep, which
clinched the final spot in the pool.


Pool 3


We spent a lot of time talking about Pool 3 before 16 Open started and as it was
underway. The pool proved to be every bit as challenging as everyone predicted.


Entering Day 3, M1 and 951 both found themselves with 3-1 records. AVA, Club Red,
Vision and Long Beach all were 2-2. Only 0-4 Skyline Juniors, playing without Youth
National Team middle Olivia Okoro, was out of it. Skyline, which got some good
swings from Margeaux Mendenhall, was one of two 16 Open teams to depart
Miami without winning a match.


Every match on that third day was critical in this pool. Long Beach, playing at full
strength, swept Skyline first thing in the morning to improve to 3-2. Perhaps this
was a sign that the most talented team in the field, player for player, was finally
pulling it together after an uneven first two days.


At 10 a.m., 2-2 AVA took on 2-2 Vision in a must-win situation for both teams. With
the combo of Malorie Pardo to Marissa Maas clicking, AVA took the first two sets.
But Vision, getting strong play on the left from Allie Frappier and Brittany
Howard and consistent setting from Hanna Nielson, took the next two sets and
used that momentum to take a 13-6 lead deep into the fifth. AVA rallied to within
14-11 on a roll shot from OH Yewande Akanbi, but Mary Vaccaro, whose right
side kill had given Vision seven match points some time ago, struck again on the
right to clinch victory.


The other 10 a.m. match pitted an M1 team with a chance to clinch advancement
against desperate Club Red, a talented young team that starts a freshman setter,
three freshmen on the pins and a freshman middle. With Macey Gardner going wild
and Haley Lawless playing like the reigning National Freshman of the Year, Club
Red could do no wrong and put a hurting on M1, winning in three straight.


Thus, with four matches left in the pool, here‟s how everything looked:


951 3-1
Club Red 3-2
Long Beach 3-2
M1 3-2
Vision 3-2
AVA 2-3
Skyline 0-5


At noon, Tori McRae scored on the slide for 951, which got off to a fast start versus
Skyline, then held on in Game 1 to win 26-24 before winning the next two easily.
Setter Hayley Crone, OH Nora Tuioti-Mariner and MB Arica Nassar, a blocking
beast, were catalysts in helped 951 improve to 4-1 heading into the 4 p.m. matches,
which were as follows:


3-2 Club Red v. 3-2 Vision
2-3 AVA v. 3-2 M1
3-2 Long Beach v. 4-1 951
By this point, I am sure that one or more “bracketologists” from each team had
death stared into the computer to determine who would come out if several teams
wound up at 4-2 or 3-3, but I just wanted to watch and enjoy matches between
teams that thought they had to win or else.


The first match to finish was Long Beach/951. Long Beach, more desperate, won a
26-24 deuce Game 1 before hammering its regional rivals in the next two. Halli
Amaro, Bria Russ and Monica Stauber keyed the sweep, which got Long Beach to
4-2.


Vision and Club Red finished next. Vision won a close Game 1 and led 13-9 in Game
2 when Club Red libero Cayley McLean decided to take on the water barrel
separating Courts 2 and 3. She won, knocking it over while pursuing a ball, causing
water to gush forth and the dividing nets to fall down. The delay did not help Club
Red, which played so well in the morning but was flat against Vision. Frappier had
the final kill of Game 2 for Vision and three late kills in the third to help keep Club
Red, which got nice work from Gardner and Katarina Schulz, at bay. Vaccaro‟s kill
completed the Vision sweep.


The wins by Long Beach and Vision, it turns out, determined the pool‟s three
advancers, because M1, even had it won, could not win enough sets to earn the nod
ahead of 951, Vision or Long Beach, which ended up winning the pool. AVA ended up
coming from down two sets to one to win in five. M1 also lost its Monday match to
Rockwood Thunder, sending respected club coach Pat Pangborn to retirement (we
hope, temporarily) on a three-match losing streak.


Pool 4


Pool 4 was the only pool to go in lock step fashion, meaning that one team was 6-0,
one 5-1, etc., all the way to one that was 0-6. The lockstep did not go according to
seed, however.


Top-seeded Laguna, the defending age group champions, lost to Tampa Bay on Day
1, Club West on Day 2 and City Beach on Day 3 and was eliminated from contention.
(They lost to Sunshine on Day 4 for good measure to finish 3-4 for the
championship). This was a team that coach Hava Davis said all year could not afford
the lapses it had been having during matches. Those lapses reared their head at JOs,
where periods of good play were followed by extended head scratching action. As a
result, Laguna was the only team among the top eight seeds not to reach at least the
Challenge phase.


The pool winner was City Beach and it did so in dominating fashion, dropping only
one game, to Laguna after its first place finish (and Laguna‟s ouster from contention)
was assured. The combination of Michelle Neumayr on the left and Konami
Yokoyama on the right proved too good for Pool 4 opponents, especially when
coupled with Lacy Coquillard’s strong work in the contrasting jersey, Taylor
Formico’s leadership from the setter position and the contributions in the middle
from Savannah Paffen and Elle Moffatt.


Club West, as predicted, did well at JOs with its merged roster of two teams – Club
West and Mavericks – that both qualified in 15 Open a year ago. Setter Ashley
Maxfeldt ran the show for Club West and kept all of her hitters happy, including RS
Tirah Leau, the hardest hitter in the field; and Alyssa Young, a springy middle who
helped key Club West‟s win over Laguna.


Still, on Day 3, the issue for Club West was whether it would place second or third in
the pool. The match with Tampa Bay would determine the outcome.


Tampa set the tone for its pool play success with a great win on Day 1 in five over
Laguna and also was involved in a second of the only three five-set matches played
in this pool. In that one, played at 10 a.m. on Day 3, a dump from Kristin Acker
helped SS, trying to play spoiler having won just once to that point, tie the fourth set
at 23-23. But two SS hitting errors allowed Tampa to escape to a fifth set.


In the fifth, three kills from 6-2 SS MB Tara Dunn, a player who impressed me
greatly with her all-around skill, helped SS stay close early. A four-point Tampa run,
punctuated by a Christa Berquist dump and Alex Johnson kill, gave Tampa
control and an 8-4 lead at the change over. The lead grew to 10-5 on a Jordan
Burgess kill before SS mounted a comeback. Three kills and an ace from hard-
hitting outside Kayla Keller helped SS to within on, 13-12. After Dunn tied the set
with a kill, Mackenzie Dagostino scored to give Tampa match point, only to see SS
rally again thanks to a great up from Ashley Leverich. The teams played on, with
each having at least one match point, until Johnson‟s tool shot gave Tampa one
more opportunity, up 16-15. Tampa cashed this one in thanks to MB Kristen
Ligouri, who soft blocked an SS attack, then two handed the ball down on an
overpass for the clincher.


Tampa‟s win made it 4-1 heading into its 4 p.m. match versus 4-1 Club West.
Burgess, the frisky freshman for Tampa, was playing great in that match, leading her
team to a Game 1 win, until she collided with a teammate in the second set. While
she out having her hand looked at, Club West won Game 2. Burgess came back in
Game 3 with no apparent ill effects, but Club West took that one, 26-24, and also
won the fourth at deuce on a block from Jazmen Russell and a kill from Deanna
Dalton, one of three talented left sides for CW.
That result sent City Beach, Club West and Tampa, in that order, into the final
twelve, while Laguna, SS, Mad Frog and Island Thunder were eliminated.


This was an eye-opening experience for Island Thunder, an all-star team from the
Pacific Northwest making its first Open appearance. The team finished 0-7 and won
only one set. But with talented kids like Chloe Sliger, Rachael Roeder and Emily
Liger, coach Lynn Roberson has a squad that won‟t be too wide eyed to compete the
next time it gets on the big stage.


A 1-5 pool play record and 2-6 overall mark was the farthest thing from the
collective minds of Mad Frog players and their enthusiastic fan base coming to JOs.
But the Frogs simply didn‟t play well. They got torched by City Beach out of the gate,
then lost to Laguna in four to fall to 0-2. Three deuce games in a row at the hands of
Tampa Bay meant the Frogs were 0-3 and effectively out of it. Katie Walker and
Liz Jauregui played well in spurts for the Frogs.


Challenge matches


With KC Power, TCA, Long Beach and City Beach all resting up as pool winners, the
remaining eight played off Sunday night to see which four would reach the Gold
quarterfinals.


Vision, building on its great win over Club Red to close pool play, won a four-set
decision over Tampa Bay. Frappier‟s kill way over the block gave Vision a two-set
lead. Burgess, her right hand heavily taped, helped Tampa come from behind to win
the third set, but that would be Tampa‟s last hurrah. Strong defense from Katy
Schatzman and good work off of one foot from MB Alex Lynch helped Vision take
the fourth set and the match. It would be Burgess‟ last match of the tournament. A
hospital trip afterwards revealed the broken bone and she sat out Monday as Tampa
lost to Texas Tornados in the Silver semifinals.


Club West also reached the Gold bracket, defeating 951 in four sets. Club West had
won its final pool play match while 951 was dropping its last contest. A better
mindset might have been the difference in this slugfest. Which Club West dominated
behind Leau, Dalton and Noelle Whitlock for the first two sets before it got
interesting. 951, which won the third before losing the fourth, was hampered, we
were told, by an illness to Crone, its standout setter already committed to USC.


Synergy charged into the quarterfinals with a four-set win over TAV. This is the part
where I write that good volleyball is played in Pennsylvania, contrary to popular
belief. I saw that with my own eyes when I attended the Pennsylvania state
championships two years ago. Those following the high school rankings who were
skeptical when I ranked Merion Mercy so highly now understand: the Manthorpe
sisters, Stacey and Shelbey, play for the Golden Bears, who have won back-to-back
AA state titles. Those two, plus OH MacKenzie Kleespies, Bond, Maugle, Bailey
Dowd, Megan Forbes, et al., simply outblocked and outworked TAV.


And it‟s not like TAV was looking past Synergy. Synergy had given TAV all it could
handle at JOs the year before. TAV won that one, but this year Synergy was the
better team. Kleespies‟ three kills late in Game 4 clinched victory for Synergy. TAV,
which got nice work at JOs from O‟Brien, Puckett and Mahoney, lost a second time to
Tornados to wind up 10th.


The final Challenge match was a shocker to me. Tornados, with all those athletes,
could not handle Front Range‟s left-side dominated attack. Bohl was sensational and
Nicole Dalton had the match winner, a back row tip that was a thing of beauty, for
Front Range. Arenas, Ivy and Myklebust had moments of brilliance for Tornados in
the loss.


Gold


The next morning brought personal challenges in the form of trying to cover 12
quarterfinals at once.


In the Open division, all four rested bye winners won their morning matches over
teams that had competed the evening before. With Workman and Lauren Ford
playing well, KC Power had no trouble winning a rematch with Front Range, which
appeared tired and out of synch.


City Beach won its NorCal regional clash with Vision in four games. Marissa Florant
helped out with some nice defense for City Beach, which got the usual strong
contributions from Neumayr and Yokoyama.


Inconsistent Long Beach overcame a Game 1 drubbing at the hands of Club West to
win in four. A great set from Stauber to Russ ended the fourth, 25-20, until the “ball
in” call was overruled. An ace from Russell and Alyssa Young block followed as Club
West got within 24-23. Russ ended CW‟s hopes once and for all, however, with a line
shot that put Long Beach into the semis.


TCA also made the semis with a four-set win over Synergy. Strickland took the
clutch swings in tight Game 3, which gave TCA a two sets to one lead. Then Bonomi
connected often with Boukather in Game 4 as TCA won going away.
I expected both semifinals to go the distance, but neither did.


In a battle of unbeatens, KC Power won Game 1 going away from City Beach, 25-15,
to set the tone for that match. Whitley was a monster in that game, with five blocks
and seven kills. KC Power appeared poised to go up two sets after Powell‟s roll shot
scored to make it 19-16 Kansas City, but City Beach answered with a 6-0 run, keyed
by two Moffatt aces, and went on for the 25-21 win that knotted the match.


Power‟s poise and precision helped them take the last two sets, both of which were
fairly close. Workman‟s kill ended Game 3, 25-22, while Workman and Whitley
collaborated on a Game 4 block that sent Power to the finals.


The other semifinal was a grudge match of sorts. Bonomi set Long Beach in 2008 but
moved over to TCA in 2009, reportedly because Long Beach did not want her to set
in a 5-1 offense. Despite not having Bonomi, Long Beach had gotten the better of
TCA to that point, winning all three matches between the teams. So, when Long
Beach used two Tyler Jackson kills to win an overtime Game 1, 28-26, it was the
way things were supposed to go.


A 5-1 run late in Game 2, which included a Bonomi dump, helped TCA tie the match
at a set apiece. TCA was gaining the upper hand against a Long Beach team that was
having trouble establishing the middle and trying to rely on two smallish, leaping
outsides for the bulk of its points. TCA won the third, 26-24, on two Long Beach
errors, concluding a set that was played point for point to the end, then used a hot
Strickland and Long Beach‟s collapse to dominate the fourth. A kill from Clement
sent TCA into the finals.


We had full coverage of the final on the Girls‟ Volleyball Message Board and we invite
you to read that thread. KC Power won its first national championship by taking the
final in four sets. Ford powered a Powell set through the block for the game winner.


“KC Power played a great match,” said TCA coach Mike Hinton. “They took us out of
what we like to do. They served us tough. For some of these kids it‟s the first time
they‟ve been in this situation. The nerves came out. We fought and won the third
game and tried to get back into the fourth game and never were able to do it. We‟re
undersized and we have to work so hard. I‟m so proud of those guys.”


Power coach Mike Stowell said that preparing to play TCA was difficult.


“They have a top-notch offense with two left-side bangers and six liberos the way
they keep the ball off the ground,” he said. “Our goal was to try to to keep our kids
from getting frustrated after being dug time after time. I thought we matched them
defensively and made a lot of plays on our own. Taylor Migliazzo, in my opinion, was
the best libero in the tournament. She, Lauren Ford and Hanna Forst did a great job
with our ball control.”


Stowell said that the team was motivated by its sub par showing in 15 Open a year
ago.


“That‟s pretty much all we‟ve talked about since the Northern Lights qualifier,” he
explained. “Our theme has been „14,‟ which is what we finished last year. Not that
that‟s bad, but we had higher expectations. That‟s been our motivation from April
through the end of June and into July.”


“We wanted to come out and show people we could win it all,” added Whitley, who
was tournament MVP. “With the disappointment of last year we came out and won all
our tourneys again. We wanted to show everyone we‟re going to compete, not lay
down and die.”


Asked which match was most important on the road to the finals, Stowell pointed to
the Sunday afternoon pool play match with Sunshine after Power had already
clinched first in the pool.


“We talked to our team and said the championship effort starts tonight,” he said.
“Our team came out in a match that didn‟t matter whatsoever and gave a great
effort and did so with all nine players contributing. I think that‟s where it sunk in to
me that we were actually going to win this tournament.


“We talked about this moment, we dreamed about it and we worked for it and it
came true.”

								
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