Posted On: 04/8/19 10:28 AM

A bookend of teams captured the Molten Series at the Midwest Volleyball Warehouse Sunday with the 18s on Court 1 and 2 and a couple teams from the 14s age group on Court 3.  The 18s playing in their final Molten Series with the 14s giving the audience of mostly parents, grandparents, and maybe some friends a quick glance at what the top players in Minnesota have cooking for the future.

With the three 18s teams from Northern Lights, the top 18s teams from MN Select, Mizuno M1, and Kokoro there definitely were some extra family there.  For these Seniors who are heading to nationals in a few weeks in Dallas, this might be the last time those grandparents and extended family members get to see them take the court locally before they head off to college which could be states away.  April of a Senior year has all the feels with a lot of lasts, an aggressive case of senioritis, but at the same time wanting to savor those moments with family and friends along side who have been there through all the successes and failures. For some of these athletes they have played internationally, for national championships, state championships, and volleyball has been the platform that has taught them commitment, sacrifice, and teamwork.  Skills they will have in their back pocket whether they compete at the college level or have to face any challenge in the future.

Two courts down is the start of big dreams.  The Class of 2023 and some from the Class of 2024.  Those years seems so far away – just like the Class of 2019 seemed like a distant year as well.  

I preface this saying we usually don’t cover 14s, however with the year coming to a close a lot of these 14s are registering for high school classes and will soon be taking over for the Class of 2019.  In the case on Sunday the 14s from MN Select 14-1 and Northern Lights 14-1 are two of the top teams in the Midwest and safe to say the nation. They will be able to showcase their talents once again at the Minneapolis Convention Center in two weeks when they take the court for the Northern Lights Qualifier with teams from Texas, Florida, and other clubs from across the country.  

For many of these 14s, volleyball is in their blood, their family – whether it be their parents, their sisters, or they might be the first in the family to enter the club volleyball world.  Like the Class of 2019, there is the possibility for the athletes in the Class of 2023 and 2024 to follow in the footsteps of those athletes who are finishing their last Molten Series with dreams of playing for championships at the state and national level as well as the hope of playing collegiately with the potential to earn a scholarship.

MN Select 14-1 defeated Northern Lights 14-1 in three sets by scores of 25-20, 21-25, 15-10.  However, the score was just a footnote. Seeing two teams play at this high of a level with flashes of greatness was a treat, and don’t get me wrong there were moments that reminded you that they were 13 and 14 years old.  Reminds you they are still just two teams, playing with their friends, playing against their friends who they might be on the same high school team as in the future, and enjoying the game they are starting to fall in love with.  Even when the matches were over you would see the players from both teams chatting with each other or finding a spare volleyball and peppering with a younger sibling or family member.

This is just a small sample of what makes volleyball so great, and also why volleyball in Minnesota is some of the best in the nation not only at the club and high school level, but the collegiate level from NCAA D3 to NCAA D1 with the Gophers – most of the rosters have home grown talent.  These athletes are staying home, growing the game, and who knows may someday be coaching the game. Safe the say the future of Minnesota volleyball is in great hands.