Posted On: 05/1/18 3:18 PM

When taking a look at the list of players in the 17 Open Division at the Northern Lights Qualifier, it is full of players who are heading to Power 5 Conferences that will be competing for a National Title, from USC and UCLA on the West Coast to Penn State on the East there is plenty to go around.  Oh and there are Midwest powers in Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Each have the athleticism, the grit, and skill to compete at a high level after college. Some of these athletes have already had experience training with the Youth USA Team.

In referring to a “Dunk Contest”, that means when I saw these athletes approach to attack it looked like they were going to dunk a basketball.  They had power, they were flying, they were reaching incredibly high, and with authority. Ten feet is always an elite club in volleyball and an indicator to coaches of how high the athlete can play.  Is it the be all end all? No, but for athletes to say they can touch ten feet is definitely a gold star.

Full disclaimer, I did not do extensive research on what these athletes have for an approach touch, but in watching them play it was very apparent to see they were playing high, flying through the air, and having authority when attacking or blocking.  This was purely the “eye test”.  Here are your Northern Lights 17 Open participants if there were to be a “dunk contest”.

Claudia Dillon – Colorado Juniors – 6’3 Middle

Committed to Missouri

Dillon is quite the all around athlete, not only being a star on the volleyball court, but on the basketball and badminton court.  Yes, badminton. Dillon is able to hit the up tempo set, but is so quick and athletic from pin to pin. When she takes a one foot approach on a slide (much like a lay up in basketball), it is so powerful and incredibly high.  The future Missouri middle blocker, was also playing in the same tournament as fellow Mizzou commit, Kenna Sauer of Iowa Power Plex. Both of these athletes fit the mold of high flyers and attack with a high IQ, and aggressiveness.

Jadyn Bauss – Dallas Premier – 6’0 Outside Hitter

Committed to SMU

Dallas Premier was oh so close to grabbing one of those last bids for the Open Division for Nationals in Detroit this summer.  There still is a chance they could get there with an “At-Large”. Buss is an SMU commit who plays on the outside that has extreme hang time.  She is able to look at the whole court when she approaches to jump because she is hanging as she swings. Premier is an aggressive team, lots of scrappiness, and Buss is just that on the court.  She finds a way to score points. If the open shot isn’t there, she isn’t afraid to use the block or cut the shot extreme cross court.

Temi Thomas – Michio Chicago – 6’1 Outside Hitter

Committed to Northwestern

I can’t help but use the age old NBA JAM reference of “With Authority” when Thomas attacks.  From her approach, to her swing, everything is aggressive. A point scoring machine from any rotation on the court, this future Big Ten player is someone who looks like she could step into that conference and contribute right now.  She is definitely the go to for Michio who finished just outside of bid contention in 9th place.

Samarah Hill – OT – 6’0 Outside Hitter

Committed To LSU

I wasn’t even on the same court and I saw Hill attack from a glance over and said, “Wow….who is that?” Hill is hitting over the block and then she will turn down and paint the line.  The right back better have her hands up ready to “guard her grill” when Hill is attacking. Her athletic style of play will suit well in the SEC and quite possibly the beach as LSU has one of the top beach programs in the nation.  

Madi Kubik – Iowa Power Plex – 6’0 Outside Hitter

Committed To Nebraska

Kubik was one of the top players in the tournament this past weekend playing all six rotations and being able to score from all six rotations.  There really isn’t a glaring weakness in her game. When it comes to her attacking, what impressed me the most was the ability to pinpoint with location and power when attacking from the backcourt.  Her contact point when attacking from the back court is close enough to the net to look like she is attacking from the front court. The combination of Kubik and Kennedi Orr from Northern Lights will be something to look forward to for Husker fans.  

Devyn Robinson – Iowa Power Plex – 6’1 Middle Blocker

Committed To Wisconsin

When Robinson jumps to block, her armpit is above the net, there was even a time where I thought she blocked the ball with her forehead.  Robinson always plays with a spark and a smile. The daughter of an Iowa State Men’s basketball coach will be taking her game to the Big Ten at Wisconsin.  Not only is the vertical and reach impressive for Robinson, but her speed from pin to pin to block is something to watch. Robinson plays for a nationally competitive club in Iowa Power Plex, but her high school team of Ankeny Centennial will be a top team in the state of Iowa as well.

Caroline Crawford – MAVS – 6’2 Middle Blocker

Committed To Kansas

Crawford actually is from the Class of 2020 and is committed to play at Kansas.  For Crawford, it was the speed at how high she could get what was impressive. When she attacks, she is up before the blockers have had a chance to put their hands above the net.  Crawford actually comes from the same high school as current Wisconsin player, Madison Duello (Liberty High School in Missouri). Crawford is a blend of speed, size, and strength and will continue to make the Jayhawks one of the top programs in the Big 12.

Onuchi Ndee – Houston Juniors – 6’0 Middle Blocker


Ndee is a little undersized, but would be a steal at the next level for her athleticism.  She has quick hops and can put the ball at any angle. Much like the rest of this group, Ndee has ridiculous hangtime which allows her to adjust in air.  A solid prospect on the pin or in the middle she can approach off one foot and terminate. Houston Juniors advanced to the final four at NLQ and have already picked up an Open bid to nationals.  

Gabrielle McCaa – Northern Lights – 6’4 Middle Blocker

Committed to USC

In honor of the Minnesota Timberwolves making it to the NBA Playoffs after a long absence I have to make reference McCaa to Minnesota post player, Karl Anthony Towns, the 7 foot center who can put a move of power towards the basket for a dunk or can hit the outside shot.  McCaa, from Minneapolis, is that style of player who can power her way through a block or get to the pin quickly for a block or a slide. McCaa will be coming into USC with another Midwest athlete, Madison Horin, out of 1st Alliance in the Chicago area. Both will definitely fit the athleticism and speed of the Pac 12, keep tabs on these two out of the Midwest when they go to the coast!