OMAHA – It’s fair to say that no single volleyball club could claim dominance of the Open Divisions at the 2017 Asics President’s Day Classic, but it was host club Nebraska Elite that kept the biggest prize from leaving town.
The five Open Division titles up for grabs on Monday went to five different clubs. Nebraska Elite 18 Kpalie won its last two matches of the tournament on Monday – and with a little help from Nebraska Juniors’s upset of Topeka Impact 181 – won the 18 Open championship.
Ozark Juniors (17 Open), Mizuno Northern Lights (16 Open), Asics MAVS (15 Open) and Premier 14 Gold (14 Open) all left CenturyLink Center as champions on Monday. Below is a recap of each of the age divisions along with the championship results and final finishes for all Nebraska teams.
Nebraska Elite 18 Kpalie didn’t make it easy on itself, but ultimately it was able to capture the 18 Open title after taking a 25-27, 25-13, 15-7 win over Nebraska Juniors 18 Black.
That win allowed Elite to finish with a 6-2 record in the 9-team round-robin tournament, which tied it for first place with Topeka Impact 181 and Northern Lights 181. The three-way tiebreaker is percentage of sets won, which favored Elite (74%) over Northern Lights (72%) and Topeka Impact (65%).
Elite entered the final day trailing Topeka Impact by a game in the standings, but Nebraska Juniors 181 did them a solid by upsetting Impact 18-25, 25-23, 15-11. Juniors pulled the upset despite having neither all-stater Madison Jurgens (Diller-Odell) nor Ashlyn Power (Lincoln Christian).
Juniors looked as though it might upset Elite as well after taking the first set, but Elite rebounded strongly in the second set to keep its championship hopes alive. With the score tied 3-3 in the third set, a kill by Millard South’s Madison Stearns and ace serve from Papillion-LaVista’s Ally Glaser jump-started 9-1 run by Elite as it went up 12-4 on a kill by Lincoln Pius X’s Kathleen Medill. Juniors got within 13-7 on a kill by Mary Katherine Wolfe, but a kill from Skutt Catholic’s Brooke Heyne and ace serve from Skutt’s Allison Schomers ended the match.
Final 18 Open Standings
1.) Nebraska Elite 18 Kpalie (6-2)
2.) Mizuno Northern Lights (6-2)
3.) Topeka Impact (6-2)
4.) CIA 18 Black (5-3)
5.) Mizuno Northern Lights 182 (5-3)
6.) Premier 18 Gold (3-5)
7.) IPVA 18’s Black (2-6)
8.) Nebraska Juniors 181 (2-6)
9.) Kairos Elite 18 Adidas (1-7)
Neither of Nebraska’s teams in the 17 Open championship bracket were able to win their first matches on Monday as Ozark Juniors 171 from Arkansas brought home the title with a 19-25, 25-22, 15-13 win over Club Iowa 17 Black.
Club Iowa eliminated VCNebraska 17 Elite in the quarterfinals 25-19, 25-19 while Mizuno Northern Lights 171 defeated Nebraska Elite 17 Tough Enough 25-21, 25-20 in the quarterfinals. VCNebraska 17 Elite then topped Elite 17 Tough Enough 25-16, 25-14 in the fifth-place match.
VCNebraska 17 Elite looked a little different on Monday as it was without Creighton recruit Jaela Zimmerman of Malcolm and setter Michaela Boon of Norris as both had school. As a result of the jumbled line-up, VCNebraska had Millard West libero Maggie Sempeck playing outside hitter.
Ozark Juniors 171 def. Club Iowa 17 Black 19-25, 25-22, 15-13
VCNebraska 17 Elite – 5th place
Nebraska Elite 17 Tough Enough – 6th place
Premier 17 Gold – 8th place
Nebraska ONE 17 Krush – 12th place
Nebraska Juniors 171 – 20th place
We got the anticipated championship match between Premier 16 Gold and Mizuno Northern Lights 161 in 16 Open, but even the best 16s team in Nebraska fell victim to the Paul Bunyan-ish team from the Twin Cities.
Northern Lights, ranked #6 nationally, pulled away late in an evenly played first set and then its huge block kept Premier at bay in the second set as it took a 25-20, 25-15 victory.
Kyndra Hansen, at 6-foot-3, and 6-2 Blythe Rients – both Iowa recruits – combined with 6-4 Gabrielle McCaa to put up a massive wall at the net all weekend long for Northern Lights. And, despite just being in 8th grade, 5-11 setter Kennedi Orr was brilliant, flashing the skills that make her one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. When Premier was able to get attacks past the block, UCLA libero recruit Marissa Hinkle was digging everything.
For Premier, libero Jaiden Centeno looks fully healthy and back to her form from a year ago before she had to miss the 2016 high school season with a hip injury, which was great to see. Centeno and Skutt OH Megan Skovsende are a an amazing 1-2 combo when in the back row together and were digging some bullets in the championship match. Setter Sami Clarkson of Omaha Concordia missed a portion of Premier’s semifinal win over Nebraska Elite 16 Mazi after awkwardly rolling her ankle but was healthy and played well in the final.
Mizuno Northern Lights 161 def. Premier 16 Gold 25-20, 25-15
Nebraska Elite 16 Mazi – 3rd place
Nebraska ONE 16 Titanium – 7th place
VCNebraska 16 Elite – 9th place
Nebraska Elite 16 Alpha – 10th place
Nebraska Juniors 161 – 11th place
Nebraska Juniors 162 – 16th place
After starting the day with an impressive 25-22, 25-18 win over Minnesota Select 151 to reach the championship bracket, Dynasty 15 Black upended Premier 15 Gold in the semifinals in three sets.
Dynasty 15 Black had to rally after Premier took the first set and the Kansas City-based club came back for a 22-25, 25-19, 15-9 victory. Asics MAVS 151 – also of Kansas City – eventually won the title and only lost one set the whole tournament and that was against Premier 15 Gold.
Asics MAVS 151 def. Dynasty 15 Black 25-22, 25-19
Premier 15 Gold – 3rd place
Nebraska Elite 15 Revolution – 6th place
VCNebraska 15 Elite – 8th place
Premier 15 Black – 11th place
Nebraska Juniors 151 – 12th place
The thoughts that Monday’s 14 Open semifinal between Premier 14 Gold and Mizuno Northern Lights 141 would be the real championship match proved correct as Premier survived for a 26-24, 20-25, 15-13 win over Northern Lights in the semifinals and then had a much-more comfortable 25-14, 25-23 win over Momentum Volleyball in the championship.
Premier finished the tournament undefeated and dropped just two sets on the weekend.
Premier 14 Gold def. Momentum Volleyball 25-14, 25-23
Nebraska ONE 14 Shockerz – 5th place
Nebraska Elite 14 Havoc – 10th place
Nebraska Juniors 141 – 11th place