Posted On: 02/13/15 9:01 PM
OMAHA – With some of the top teams and players in the Midwest coming to Omaha this weekend for the Nebraska Elite Asics President’s Day Tournament at CenturyLink Center, we are going to take a look at who the top teams and players are as a preview.
Since our coverage of the tournament will focus primarily on the Open divisions of tournament play – the highest level of competition – that’s what we will preview. All rankings are in reference to the PrepVolleyball.com national rankings and are not an indication of how teams are seeded.
#8 – Front Range 18 Black. Not only is this like “the team” to watch at the tournament, but it boasts arguably the nation’s top player in 6-foot-2 setter Jordyn Poulter, who was named the top senior setter in the nation and is headed to Illinois. Last year, Front Range 18 Black finished 9th at the AAU National Championships and 13th at the USAV National Championships. Aside from Poulter, Front Range 18 Black also features a pair of Oregon recruits in 6-foot-3 OH Haley McLaren and 6-foot setter August Raskie.
#16 – Eastern Iowa Xtreme. The Gatorade National High School Player of the Year and Husker recruit Mikaela Foecke plays for this team, as does Iowa libero recruit Molly Kelly. If you want to see the future of Nebraska volleyball, you have to watch Foecke.
#20 – KC Power 181. Setter Lindsey Benson, a 6-foot, is headed to TCU while this team also features 6-foot-2 OH Madison Duello (a Wisconsin recruit) and 6-foot-3 MB Macy Flowers – a Kansas State recruit.
#24 – All Iowa Attack 18 Red. Jaali Winters, a 6-foot-2, OH Creighton recruit is joined by fellow future Bluejay Megan Ballenger and 6-foot-2 MB Mariah McPartland – who is headed to East Tennessee State.
#30 – MAVA 18-A. This team from Kentucky is largely made from players that finished 5th at the AAU 17 Open National Championships last year and features leads of height and talent.
#50 – Northern Lights 181. Cincinnati recruit Jordan Thompson, at 6-foot-4, controls the right side for NL 181 and South Dakota recruit Lauren Mattison is the team’s libero.
MUST WATCH POOL-PLAY MATCH: Court 25 – 11 a.m. Saturday – Eastern Iowa Xtreme vs. Front Range 18 Black.
#2 – Invasion 17 Black. The 17 Open division is loaded with four of the top 10 teams in that nation, but Invasion might be the best of all. PrepVolleyball.com considers Invasion 6-foot-5 OH Audriana Fitzmorris to be potentially the top high school junior in the nation.
#5 – Northern Lights 171. As 16s last year, this group finished third at both AAU and USAV National Championships a year ago. The team features two of the top high school juniors in the nation in Brittany McLean and Natalie Haben.
#7 – KC Power 171. Even though KC Power is ranked lower than Invasion, Power has already defeated Invasion this year and is a legitimate threat to win it all this weekend. Power goes with 6-foot-4 middle Regan Pittman and 6-foot-5 middle Madison Turner and has one of the best 17s setters in the nation in Tess Reid.
#10 – Colorado Juniors. Setter Mariah Evans is a North Carolina recruit and the team has three Division I setters in Mike Dickson (Cal Poly), Karysa Swackenberg (Rutgers) and Emerson Gerali (Campbell). Evans, however, is coming off hip surgery, per PrepVolleyball.com, and may not be ready in time for this weekend.
MUST WATCH POOL-PLAY MATCH: Court 16 – Noon Sunday – Northern Lights 171 vs. KC Power 171.
#2 – Northern Lights 161. This is mostly the Northern Lights team that won both the 15 Open Championships at AAU and USAV last season, but did lose two of its top players to higher-level teams.
#8 – KC Power 161. Madison Lilley is considered one of the nation’s top 16s setters for Power and they have 6-foot-4 RS Naomi Hickman.
#19 – Colorado Juniors. Colorado Juniors, which lost earlier this year to Nebraska Elite 161, has one of the nation’s best 16s liberos in Oregon State commit Makenna Browne.
#44 – Nebraska Elite 161. Consider this the opportunity for Nebraska Elite 161 to put itself on the map as a national title contender. After beating Colorado Juniors early in February, Elite 161 then finished 2nd in the 18 Open division of Best in the Midwest. The schedule is favorable for Elite to make a push to the Gold bracket and after this tournament, many of the Elite 161 players will become household names for college recruiters – if the team plays up to its potential.
MUST WATCH POOL-PLAY MATCH: Court 28 – Noon Sunday – Northern Lights 161 vs. Colorado Juniors 16Peer.
#13 – Northern Lights 151. In what is likely the most wide-open division among Open play this weekend, Northern Lights comes in as the highest-ranked team and the top seed. They grow ‘em tall up North, and this team is no exception with four players 6-foot or taller.
#30 – Ozark Juniors 151. Ozarks has 6-foot-1 RS Haley Warner, but got a brutal draw getting stuck in pool play with quality teams like Northern Lights, Nebraska Elite and VCNebraska 15 Elite.
Other Contenders – Nebraska Elite 15 Revolution. KC Power 151. Nebraska Impact Power 15 Banzai.
MUST WATCH POOL-PLAY MATCH: Court 36 – 8 a.m. Saturday – Nebraska Impact Power 15 Banzai vs. KC Power 151.
Contenders – Northern Lights 141, Colorado Juniors 14Matt, Nebraska Elite 141 Havoc, Premier 14 Gold.
MUST WATCH POOL-PLAY MATCH: Court 8 – 11 a.m. Saturday – Nebraska Elite 141 Havoc vs. Premier 14 Gold.