Posted On: 06/15/21 11:06 AM

Over this past weekend, CEVA held its Regionals tournament where the top 18U, 16U, 14U, and 12U teams from the region competed. 

For the 18U age bracket, the top five finishers were…

#1 NPJ 18 Forefront

#2 OJVA 17-1 National 

#3 OJVA 18-1 National 

#4 NPJ 17 National 

#5 Chaos 17 National 

For the first time this season, I had the opportunity to go watch these teams compete in person. I will be spotlighting the athletes from 2022, 2023, and 2024, who were an impact in their position and made an impression when watching.

2022 DEFENSIVE SPECIALISTS

Photo: Jennifer Barnes

Maisie Alexander Maisie Alexander 5'6" | DS/L Jesuit | 2022 State OR , 5’6″, DS, Jesuit High School, Athena Volleyball Academy

Alexander switched on and off between the libero and the defensive specialist position with Hannah Nguyen Hannah Nguyen 5'5" | DS/L Jesuit | 2022 State OR for the Oregon Juniors 17-1 National team over the weekend. She is an incredibly quick defender and does a good job reading the hitters to get herself in a successful position to dig. Alexander has a serve like not other, a mix between a jump serve and a standing float, it racks up plenty of aces and disruption for her opponents. 

Alexander is the two-year starting libero for Jesuit High School, which won the state championship in 2019. As a sophomore, she was awarded Metro First Team All-League as well as 6A First Team All-State. She was named to the 6A All-Star Team by PrepDig. 

Alexander is currently not committed to a school for the fall of 2022.

Photo: Jennifer Barnes

Sophie Biehler Sophie Biehler 5'7" | DS/L Tualatin | 2022 State OR , 5’7″, DS, Tualatin High School, Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy 

Biehler had to take on a bulk of the load this weekend in the back row given that she was the lone defensive specialist in attendance for the Oregon Juniors 18-2 Blue team. She moves well on serve receive and defense. When watching Bielher compete, you notice the constant positive energy she brings to the floor. 

Biehler has been on the varsity roster for Tualatin High School since her freshman season and has juggled many different roles for them. This past season she was their starting libero and was awarded Three Rivers First Team All-League as well as 6A Third Team by PrepDig. 

Biehler is currently not committed to a school for the fall of 2022.

Photo: OSAA

Celia Espinoza Celia Espinoza 5'3" | DS/L Mountain View | 2022 State OR , 5’3″, DS, Mountain View High School, North Pacific Juniors 

Espinoza was a steady force in the back row for NPJ Bend 18 National. As commonly seen with all NPJ teams, they like to run two liberos and have one used primarily for serve receive and the other for defense. Espinoza is their serve receive libero and watching her play it is easy to see why. She is very quick and is able to get to the ungettable ball on serve receive (and defense). 

Espinoza is a three-year starting libero for Mountain View High School. As a freshman, she was a Mountain Valley Honorable Mention honoree. Her sophomore year she was awarded Mountain Valley First Team All-League. This past season she was awarded Mountain Valley First Team by PrepDig 

Espinoza is currently not committed to a school for the fall of 2022.

Photo: NPJ

Laci Jespersen Laci Jespersen 5'2" | DS/L West Salem | 2022 State OR , 5’2″, DS, West Salem High School, North Pacific Juniors 

Jespersen has been a key piece of the back row for this group of NPJ athletes for many seasons, and this season has been no different. She showcased her great defensive range and court sense this past weekend. When in the libero jersey, she is utilized for her great serve receive capabilities. 

Jespersen was the starting libero for West Salem High School this past season. She was awarded to the Mountain Valley Second Team by PrepDig. 

Jespersen is currently not committed to a school for the fall of 2022.

Photo: Jennifer Barnes

Hannah Nguyen Hannah Nguyen 5'5" | DS/L Jesuit | 2022 State OR , 5’5″, DS, Jesuit High School, Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy

Nguyen switched on and off between the libero and the defensive specialist role with Maisie Alexander Maisie Alexander 5'6" | DS/L Jesuit | 2022 State OR for the Oregon Juniors 17-1 National team over the weekend. Nguyen reads the ball very well on defense and is a steady serve-receive passer. She brings a sense of great calm to the back row. An integral part of this team’s back row since 12U, she brings great confidence and leadership to the team.    

Nguyen has been on the varsity roster for Jesuit High School since her freshman season. As a sophomore, she was awarded Metro Third Team All-League. She was named to the 6A All-Star Team by PrepDig. 

Nguyen is currently not committed to a school for the fall of 2022.