This is “Dots,” VolleyballMag’s weekly look at 10 things in club volleyball, past or present, that interest me and hopefully will interest you. Look for Dots every Tuesday through Junior Nationals this summer.

• Last weekend was a busy one in the world of juniors volleyball.

That statement needs no qualifier, because “qualifier” was the name of the game. From New Orleans to Minneapolis, St. Louis to Spokane, teams lined up with dreams of getting to Vegas or Baltimore to compete against the best of the best at Junior Nationals.

• Let’s start in Minneapolis, where the 16s division piggybacked on the youngsters in the Twin Cities at the Mizuno Northern Lights Qualifier. TAV 16 BlueMilwaukee Sting 16 White and South Texas 16 Navy were colorful winners of the three Club-level divisions, but the big prize was in 16 Open, where 24 teams, none with bids, vied to be the entitled trio to make their way to Vegas.

TAV 16 Black was one of three TAV-Dallas teams to win Open qualifiers this past weekend at three separate locales

TAV 16 Black went 9-0 to claim the title and earn the Open bid. The Dallas-area squad, which tied for third at Triple Crown; defended its No. 1 seed but was pushed, as four of its matches went to three sets. That was never more true than in the championship versus Minnesota Select 16-1, a match TAV won, 17-15 in the third.

MN Select was pushed and did some pushing of its own to qualify in 16 Open at Northern Lights

“We were really tested by a few talented Midwest teams and the finals was no different,” said coach Paul Baxter. “We were staring at a 11-14 deficit receiving serve in that final deciding set against Select, so we had to cook up some magic for the comeback win.”

Baxter credit improved blocking for TAV’s success. The team got a few massive blocks by Kinsley Young and Danielle Whitmire during its big comeback.

S/RS Anna Flores probably had her best overall event of the year, Baxter said. She contributed in all aspects of the game. Young hit .500 in the championship match despite being pitted against a top middle on Select. Pins Layla Austin and Kylie Kleckner had to take about 70 swings in the final and carried a huge load.

“Select is a very tough team that plays with really good intensity, so nothing came easy that’s for sure,” Baxter said.

“The girls have been doing a great job of learning and implementing all the new concepts and ideas we’ve been throwing at them from the start of the season,” Baxter added. “We’ve had a lot of nice success against the top competition in country, whether it be here in North Texas, The Tour of Texas, Triple Crown, and now at Northern Lights. It’s awesome to get to be in that environment against great teams consistently and the Northern Lights JNQ was no different. It was great weekend and the girls answered the tough task of being the #1 seed very well.

“This TAV team is great and can make it work in a lot of different ways and we will keep getting deeper and provide more looks as the season continues that’s for sure. But being a Minnesota native, I couldn’t have asked for a better scripted event and all the girls deserve that Gold Ball and the great memories behind it!”

• MN Select and Houston Juniors 16 Elite joined TAV in qualifying for Junior Nationals.

MN Select finished 7-2 for the weekend. In addition to losing in the finals to TAV, Select fell in three on Friday to HJV, a loss it avenged to win its Gold Pool on Sunday and clinch a bid. Nothing came easily for Drew Rongere’s team, as six of its final seven matches went the distance.

The effort was a great bounce back after a disappointing 20th-place finish at MEQ the weekend before.

The Day 1 loss to Houston Juniors put MN Select into a brutal Day 2 pool with the likes of Houston Skyline 16 Royal, the No. 2 overall seed; and Premier Nebraska 16 Gold.

“We played some of our best volleyball of the season and went 3-0 on day two to secure a spot in a Gold pool,” Rongere said.

Houston Skyline also lost to Premier in a shocking early exit for one of the nation’s elite teams in this age group.

On Sunday, MN Select outlasted Milwaukee Sting 16 Gold in three to get within one win of a bid.

“We headed into the next match against the HJV team we lost to on day one knowing that a win would get us the open bid that we made a team goal to secure at the beginning of the season,” said Rongere. “We struggled out of the gate and lost the first set, 19-25. This team has been grinding all season with huge comeback wins so we stayed focused on the game plan and made a few adjustments. We won the second set. 25-17. Halfway through the third set we were down 1-7 in front of a huge crowd of 300+. “

Rongere called for time and told his team they’d faced similar deficits before.

“’Focus on 1 point at a time and battle every second you’re on the court and we will get back in this,’” he told his charges. “I truly believed this team could win the match. We ultimately fought back and won 15-12 to secure a 16-open bid.”

While Rongere credited everyone on his team for stepping up to the challenge on the weekend, he singled out setter Ellery DeBoer for running a great offense and being an attacking threat herself in every match. MB Elena Hoecke played like one of the top middles nationally, which she is. She dominated the net hitting and blocking. Libero Sidney Burley led the team in digs and “owned the backrow and refused to let balls hit the ground.”

“She is a stud and I’m glad she is our backrow leader and not on another team,” Rongere said.

Hayden Reeder was probably the biggest key to our success,” Rongere added. “She moved from an OH/DS role to [the right side] for the NLQ and did an amazing job. She had a ton of huge kills and blocks for us throughout the weekend. Her desire to be great and help her teammates be successful has been key to creating a winning culture for our team.”


Houston Juniors’ loss to Select in Gold Pool 2 was its first of the weekend. Instead of letting that loss – it had led 7-1 in the third – get the best of it, the team rebounded to win a tense match versus Premier Nebraska, 22-25, 25-23, 15-13, for the final bid.

“When you work so hard to develop a culture that believes in a family atmosphere with hard work ethic; great things happen!” exclaimed assistant coach John Turner. “Tara Cross Battle and I stress how important it is to have our teams do the little things that make us ‘Trust the Process’ to go to war on the court for one another! It all starts with writing your goals each practice on the dry erase board on our court, with a different player providing an inspirational quote; our team meeting each morning of tournament play for breakfast to share our preparation for the day; team dinners followed by a team meeting going over film/scouting our next-day opponents with feedback from players. This is just a few things we have as expectations/accountability from our players. We trust/believe in each one of them and they in return do the same by playing their hearts out for each other.

“The emotions we as a family felt at the winning moment was overwhelming. These young ladies had never earned an Open bid before after playing 4-5 years of club volleyball. I’m super proud to have co-coached with Tara Cross Battle to earn this bid. Now it’s time to get back to work setting our eyes on a national championship in July at Vegas!”

• We’re off to St. Louis for the 15s age division at MEQ. TX Legacy 15 Elite, Mineral Area 15 Elite and KC Power 15 Red won the Club-level divisions. Forty-eight teams – a massive field – signed up to test their abilities at the Open level.

TAV 15 Black, the age group national champions in 2023, and both the Triple Crown and Sunshine Classic champions in 2024, was the top seed and Jason Nicholson’s team did not disappoint. TAV went 10-0 and dropped just one set, in the championship match versus Dallas Skyline 15 Royal, on its way to a second qualifier title this year.

“What a great weekend of volleyball,” Nicholson exclaimed. “Obviously being the #1 seed we had a target on our back going into the weekend but that’s something I think this team thrives on. We played very well in all phases throughout the weekend. We have tons of offensive weapon but I felt our first touch was very consistent, which really allowed the setters to put their hitters in great situations. Having Sophee Peterson back on the court gives me lots of options personnel-wise. She did a great job of setting in both 5-1 and 6-2 systems. Brynn Stephens continues to show her versatility as both a setter and attacker. Gentry Barker was flying around on the outside and backrow terminating ball after ball. Lexi Martin and Naomi Livings were huge blocks and added a ton of impressive kills. Nyla Livings was very efficient in the middle getting kills in front of and behind the setter. Middles Mariah Akinsola and Onita Davis were dominant at the net shutting down our opponents’ attackers while adding timely kills. Libero Ansley Shafer and defensive specialist Karsyn Evans were huge in extending rallies and making it hard on our opponents to score points. It was a true team effort with every piece to the puzzle having an impact on the team’s success. We lost our only set of the weekend in the final. It felt like both teams were looking a little tired and we let Skyline steal the first one. We used that to motivate us in set 2 and 3 to win the championship.”

A5 15 Kelly put together a complete performance against a tough field to qualify in 15 Open at MEQ

• Skyline, A5 15 Kelly and VCNebraska 15 Elite finished 2-3-4 to earn bids at MEQ.

Each team lost just once, Skyline to TAV in the final, A5 to TAV in the Gold Bracket semis and VCN to Skyline in the other semifinal.


Skyline came into MEQ down a setter and had to run a 5-1 the entire weekend with Camryn Penn in charge.

“The girls could have used it as an excuse, but instead they chose to stand tall and roll with it,” said coach Mark Flores. “The entire team did a great job acclimating and dug themselves out of holes we dug ourselves into at times on days 2 and 3.”

Back-to-back-to-back three-set wins over Auston Skyline 15 Royal, HP STL 15 Royal and 1United 15N Blue catalyzed Dallas Skyline’s run.

Pin hitters Ryan Spencer (OH) Grace Pinegar (OH) and Lucy Holmes (RS) all had great weekends offensively.

“Lucy stepped into the serve receive patterns more than she has in the past and did great, which gave us plenty of options when needed,” Flores noted.

Dallas Skyline played down a setter yet still qualified in 15 Open at MEQ

Libero Dakota Huynh, one of the team leaders, had a phenomenal weekend with her consistent serve receive and defensive wizardry. Penn not only ran a pretty balanced offense, using all her hitters front and back row, but she also played a great all-around game with some big digs, blocks and attacks.

Middles Parker Horton and KC Chinnas were efficient scoring machines.

“We had a great weekend and I am so proud of the girls fighting all three days,” Flores said.


A5’s path to a bid included revenge on HPSTL, the team that ousted it at Sunshine. That allowed the Atlanta team to keep its top four seed heading into the final day.

“Without that match we were in trouble… with it we were able to keep that momentum on the last day and play our best,” noted coach Kelly Audia.

“It was ultimately a ‘team tournament,’ with some of our best performances coming off the bench at times,” Audia added. “Our blocking was especially resilient and showed up big when points mattered most and our defense was outstanding on Sunday.

“Every match it seemed someone new would step up and play their best when we needed it most.  It was a gritty performance that ultimately saw us win three three-set matches and pull out some incredible comebacks in long two-set wins.

“We are really hitting our stride as a team and will only get better before Nationals come. We can’t wait to see what happens next.”


VC Nebraska had eight straight sweeps to clinch a bid, then lost in the semifinals, 26-24, 26-24.

“We were really close to qualifying at Sunshine two weeks ago,” coach Blake Rawlins explained. “They made it their mission to do it in St. Louis. “They just played consistent volleyball all three days. Really proud of this group!”

VC Nebraska excelled in all phases in qualifying at MEQ

Rawlins said his team served and passed well and defender at a high level. Freshman setter McKinley Moser was very, very good and affirmed his position as one of the top setters in the 2027 class.

“She does a fantastic job getting our attackers 1-on-1 a lot, especially in transition.”

Libero Kaelynn Lottman also was fantastic in her role and all three pins, Alli Bornschlegl, and Hallie and Gracie Lauenstein did a great job of attacking, even against taller teams.

• TAV’s weekend of winning continued at Music City in New Orleans, where TAV 18 Black won the 18 Open division. The ultra-talented group, which originally qualified at Lone Star, went undefeated for the weekend. TAV is probably the favorite to win Junior Nationals in Baltimore. The team finished second to Coast 18-1 at Triple Crown.

OVA found qualifying in New Orleans Music City to its ears

• Madfrog 18’s National Black placed second in the 28-team tournament to qualify in Openas did Florida teams Top Select 18 Elite and OVA 18 Black, which took advantage of the trickle-down process in a field where 10 had previously secured Open admission.


Top Select was second in 17 Open at AAUs last year and qualified for Junior Nationals in its third attempt this year. Coach Ross Usie, a native Louisianan, saw his team finish 19th at Florida Fest and tenth in Boston before breaking through in his home state.

“We have progressively been getting closer and closer to top 10 finishes as the season progressed,” he said. “We never lost by more than 5-6 points against big-name teams, so we knew we could do it…and WANTED to.”

A sweep of previously-qualified City 18 Gold on Day 1 was huge for Top Select, as it gave the team the boost of confidence needed to beat other good teams. On Day 2, Top Select defeated Triangle 18 Black and, for the fourth time this season, OVA, in a match that was tougher than the prior three times.

OHs Diona Mitchell and Jayda Redd, both scoring and blocking; and libero Mayte Kamacho were key performers.

Said Usie: “I’m glad we qualified here because I was born and raised in LA, about two hours West of NOLA, so this one meant a lot to me for sure.”


OVA qualified despite a sub-.500 record. That can happen if you win the right matches.

“I am very proud of the team and the way we competed at Music City,” said coach Jen Darty. “It’s taken us some time and work to get to the level that we did and it took everyone stepping us for us to get there.”

OH Ashtyn Sims was a huge catalyst for OVA.

“She stepped up for us big time and played lights out,” Darty observed. “I am so proud of what she is doing for us on the court and the growth that I’ve seen from her. I think our defense came up with some big momentum plays as well.”

• Out West, PNQ in Spokane ran into competition for hotel rooms with the NCAA Women’s Division I opening-round games, hosted by Gonzaga. The play on the floor saw NPJ 18 Forefront and NORCO 181 finish 1-3 to take home the two Open bids.

NPJ ran through PNQ undefeated for the second straight year

NPJ won 18 Open for the second straight year behind setter Alexis Haury, OHs Page Thies and Maija Howse and MB Chloe LeLuge. The Oregon club was undefeated and dropped only two sets. They were 3-0 versus the two previously-qualified teams in the 11-team field, Pohaku 18-1 and Seal Beach 18 Black; and also 2-0 against NORCO.


NORCO’s bid came thanks to a great effort from libero Julia Bohlinger.

“She really played some of the best volleyball passing and defending I have seen from her,” said coach Kyle Cox.

Bohlinger’s first-contact prowess allowed the team to utilize its big arms, middle blocker Delaney Ewing and outsides Karli Krueger and Chloe Duzenack, to maximum efficiency.

“We gave NPJ absolutely everything they could handle and split with two really good teams in Pohaku and Seal Beach,” Cox noted.

• Not many teams have had a better two-week stretch than Boiler Juniors 16 Elite Gold. First, Jasmine Fullove’s team won 16 Open at Bluegrass in Louisville. One week later, the Northern Indiana team finished second in a crowded 16 Open field at MEQ.

The Boilers had standout performances on successive weekends at Bluegrass and MEQ

Cali Foster had a phenomenal performance in both tournaments,” Fullove said. “She was an offensive weapon. Cali is an incredible leader and has a ‘take over’ personality and attitude in big matches. She thrives in big games and is a player we rely on during the season. Even though she stands only 5-9, she is being recruited by Power 5 schools because of her tenacious spirit on the court. She is a standout for sure, and big programs are seeing that!”

• Infinity 16 Ren has won consecutive tournaments. This past weekend, they played in Birmingham at “Bama Beast.”

“We fought our way through pool play and then bracket play to end up winning first place in the 16 Club division,” noted coach Taylor Mraz. “This team is a fun and very talented group of girls. No matter the circumstances, they are always willing to play wherever they are asked to and give 110% every time they step foot on to the court.”


Finally, some Metro news. Metro 18 Travel ended its qualifier season with five Gold Bracket finishes and by triple qualifying. The team is led by outsides Mimi Mambu and Alexis Ewing.

Metro 17 Travel on Saturday earned the Chesapeake Region’s National Bid at the CHRVA regional tournament. This is the second year in a row this team earned the bid.

Led by setter Isabelle Bardin, with 91 assists, Metro went 5-0 without dropping a set. Outside hitter Destini Pickett was dynamic in the front and back row, racking up 33 kills, 8 aces, 21 digs and averaged a 2.2 passer rating. Libero Sadie Gladhill and DS Evie Huang combined for 88 digs and each passed over a 2.1.

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