OMAHA – With five of the top 40 teams in the nation competing, the 15 Open division of the 2016 Asics President’s Day Tournament promises to be full of quality matches.
There are five pools of four teams in the 15 Open division for a total of 20 teams. Colorado Juniors 15 Shannon, Dynasty 15 Black Addidas, Mizuno Northern Lights 151, Club ONE 15 Black and KC Power 15-1 each earned top seeds in their respective pools. Premier 15 Gold is the highest-seeded team from Nebraska and received the #6 overall seed and is in the same pool as KC Power 151.
After pool play on Saturday, 12 of the 20 teams will advance in championship play. On Sunday, there will be three pools of four teams with the top two teams in each pool advancing to Monday’s championship bracket.
Colorado Juniors 15 Shannon is ranked #40 in the nation by Prep Volleyball and is basically the same team that finished 32nd in the 14 Open division at USAV Nationals. The team is strong defensively with standout liberos Gianna Bartalo and Leanne Lowry and the team is led at the net by middle Addie Feek and pin hitters Ashley Larson and Lilly Thomason.
Dynasty 15 Black Adidas is ranked #11 in the nation and is considered one of the national title contenders in the age group. Dynasty – out of the Kansas City area – returns its top seven players off of last year’s team that finished 10th in the 14 Open division at USAV Nationals last year and features 6-foot-2 RS Rachel Hickman and 6-2 middle Abby Copeland. Setter Laura Willoughby is one of the top setters in the Midwest in this age division for Dynasty and she has plenty of weapons, including Londyn Gartner, Ana Barnes, Loren Hinkle and Jackie Storm.
Mizuno Northern Lights from Minneapolis always puts out some of the top teams in the nation, and their 151s are no exception this year and are ranked #5 in the nation. The team finished fifth at the AAU Nationals and 19th at USAV in Open division competition and – much like Dynasty – brings a lot of size to Omaha. Northern Lights have Rachel Kilkelly and 6-2 Kyndra Hansen on the outside and 6-1 Christine Graf on the right side and 6-1 middle Jasmine Mulvihill in the middle. A name to remember on this team is setter Kennedi Orr, who is playing two age divisions up as a 15. Her older sister Brie is a setter for Northern Lights 171 and has committed to Iowa.
Club ONE 15 Black is out of Tulsa and something of an unknown but generally brings big, athletic teams to major tournaments. KC Power is far from unknown and is known for consistently having outstanding teams. Last year KC Power finished third in the 14 National division at the USAV Nationals and returns seven key players from that squad. A new player to the team is 6-2 middle Amaya Tillman, but she is the only player on the roster at 6-foot or taller.
While KC Power finished third in the National division at USAV last year, it was Premier that won the 14 National title a year ago and is looking to continue its success from previous years while taking a step up to the Open level. What Premier 15 Gold lacks in height – only 6-foot Millard West freshman Bailey Wilson comes in at 6-foot or taller – it more than makes up for in depth and defense. Millard West freshman libero Jaiden Centeno is one of the best defenders in the state regardless of class and anchors the Premier 15 Gold defense. Omaha Marian freshman Hailey Zuroske and Elkhorn eighth-grader Megan Skovsende are on the outside for Premier while Wilson, Nicole Meyer and Jessica Hendrix handle the middle and lefty Carly Renken handles the right side. Setters Ashley Straub and Sami Clarkson are both athletic and strong at the net and DS Emma Schafer is an outstanding compliment to Centeno in the back row.
Premier 15 Gold will take on KC Power 151 at 1 p.m. on Saturday in pool play in what should be the best match of the day in the 15 Open division and it will also be crucial for seeding moving forward.
Other Nebraska teams competing in the 15 Open division this weekend include Nebraska ONE 15 Titanium – the 11th overall seed – as well as Nebraska Elite 15 Synergy (seeded 12th), Nebraska Elite 15 Kekoa (seeded 14th) and VCNebraska 15 Elite (seeded 18th overall). Here are how the teams are divided into pools to start competition on Saturday morning.
Pool 1 – Colorado Juniors 15 Shannon, Mizuno Northern Lights 152, Nebraska ONE 15 Titanium, Springfield Juniors 15 Red.
Pool 2 – Dynasty 15 Black Adidas, Central Iowa Select 15M, Nebraska Elite 15 Synergy, NORCO 15 Black.
Pool 3 – Mizuno Northern Lights 151, Colorado Juniors 15 Nikki, Ozark Juniors 151, VCNebraska 15 Elite.
Pool 4 – Club ONE 15 Black, Topeka Impact 151, Nebraska Elite 15 Kekoa, Momentum 15 Black.
Pool 5 – KC Power 151, Premier 15 Gold, Kappa Rapid Spikers 15 Black, Minnesota Select 151.
In the 15 Club division, Premier 15 Silver is the highest seeded team from Nebraska at #5 overall while the top seed in the division is Mizuno Northern Lights 15B.
In the 14 Open division, Nebraska Elite 14 Havoc is the top overall seed while Club Legacy 14 ROX, Premier 14 Gold and VCNebraska 14 Elite will also represent Nebraska in the 14-team division.
In 13 Club, Asics Mavs 131 is the top overall seed while Nebraska ONE 13 Shockerz is the highest-seeded Nebraska team at #5 overall. In 12 Club, Dynasty 12 Black Adidas is the top overall seed and Premier 12 Gold is the highest-seeded Nebraska team at #4 overall. In the 12s and 13s division, there is no Open division.