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“Crazy” times for USA Olympians as men, women deal with postponement

YSA Olympic postponement 3/26/2020-Lauren Carlini-Dinamo Moscow
Lauren Carlini sets for Dinamo Moscow in the Russia Super League

John Speraw used to leave his house in San Juan Capistrano at 4:30 a.m. for quiet time and to beat the traffic for his 68-mile drive to UCLA.

Now to go to work he walks over to what was used to be his dining room. And his dining room is not overburdened with office supplies or coaching tools.

“We had this antique map of Paris,” he said with a laugh. “It’s about 4 by 6.

And I just started drawing with a dry-erase pen all over it, because I needed a dry-erase board.“

And that was before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed.

Now Speraw, both the UCLA men’s coach and USA men’s Olympic coach, is attending to both jobs in ways he never imagined.

“Planning out the season, all the prep that goes into matches, practices every day, staff meetings, player meetings. And I was like, ‘I’m going to have tons of time.’ But I have less,” Speraw said.

“It’s crazy.

Crazy pretty much sums it up.

We talked Tuesday shortly after the Olympics were officially postponed, but Speraw — like all of us — knew it was coming. 

“It was interesting for me because I wasn’t surprised, and, yet, at the same time it was just sad,” Speraw said. “The athletes and coaches put in all this time for four, eight, 12 years or a lifetime of dreams into that moment and there’s this four-year period that’s a crescendo to that moment and all of a sudden that moment moves. And it was a little sad to see.

“The priority is clearly everyone’s health. Family health. Athletes’ health. The positions that athletes were being put it to continue to train or potentially qualify .. and certainly the general public health is a priority. The Olympics are sport. We know sports are important, but not as important as the lives of our parents, our grand-parents and players.”

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone associated with the Olympics who questions the decision.

“I think that it is sad and a huge bummer,” USA veteran Matt Anderson, back from his team in Italy, told us, “but also the best option for the safety and fairness of all of the athletes.”

“Tokyo 2021. The timing is different but the goal is the same,” the USA’s David Smith said on Instagram. “Making the most of what I have at the moment to keep moving forward in the direction of my dreams.”

Both the USA men’s and women’s teams had qualified for the Games. Most of the players for those teams are pros and with their leagues shut down, most are back in America and waiting.

“Of course I wanted to get the chance to compete for the Olympic team this year,” said USA setter Lauren Carlini, back from her team in Russia. “I’m bummed. I’m bummed because I felt like I put myself in a good position leading up to this summer mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

“The best way to put it is I felt like a caged lion just waiting to be released. And now they told us to pump the brakes and wait another year. I’m glad they are going to only postpone it by one year, and not two years or cancel it. That would have been absolutely devastating and my emotions would be way different than they are now.”

Everyone’s emotions are probably drained. USA veteran Jordan Larson wrote on her Instagram, “While yesterday’s news wasn’t the most ideal, it was the best outcome for what’s happening in the world around us. It doesn’t change my attitude or desire to want to continue on this path and the journey ahead. While it is challenging and will continue to be will be, I’m here for the ride. I also believe, our national and Team USA will be more united than ever moving forward.”

John Speraw: “The girls have decorated my ‘office,’ which is the dining room. Little Hailey taking a nap as I was talking to (USA assistant) Brian Thornton.”

That’s the plan for Speraw, who lost two seasons, his UCLA men’s and the Olympics. The upside is he’s not traveling — this is a guy who lives out of a suitcase — and is getting family time. After all, his daughter Hailey couldn’t be there to sleep on his shoulder when he’s working at UCLA or at the USA training center.

“We’ll carry on. We’ll start making plans for next summer or whenever the Games will be and we’ll keep moving on stay focused on the goal,” Speraw said.

The USA men’s team is primarily made up of younger players, but even the veterans like Anderson, Smith and Max Holt aren’t old enough to be concerned about a year’s delay.

Another huge consideration is the preparation and fitness of the athletes, and not just in volleyball.

“No question,” Speraw said. “Everybody’s holed up at home and they’re trying to figure out how to do workouts in their house. Most of our guys don’t have access to a gym.

“And I also think once the (Volleyball Nations League, including a stop in Pittsburgh in May) was canceled, we spent time trying to figure out how to get some matches so we had some friendlies and some competitive opportunities under our belt before the Olympics. And truth was it wasn’t going to be nearly as much as normal.

“The chance that the level of play was going to be lower was really high.”

And that raised the risk of injuries, as well, and the likelihood of subpar performances across the board. What’s more, quite a few sports — beach volleyball for one — is still in the qualification process.

“We were at least qualified,” Speraw said, “but we were still trying to figure out how we were going to reach peak performance and I don’t think that we would have.”

In Speraw’s case, he had whittled his roster to 25 players, but still needed to get to 12 for the Olympics.

He admitted he’s not sure when to make those cuts, especially since the date of the 2021 Games is not set.

“There are still so many unanswered questions,” Speraw said.

On the women’s side, Carlini is almost sure to be in the USA final 12, but: 

“Now it is just a matter of taking care of ourselves, our bodies, and knowing it’s OK to feel a little sad,” Carlini said. “But that moment can’t last. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves for long, because guess what, everyone else is experiencing the exact same thing. 

“We are all wading through uncharted territory and trust me, no other teams in the world feel sorry for Team USA. We get back up and we start the grind again, in whatever capacity is allowed given the current circumstances. 

“So yes, I’m bummed, we’re bummed, but we are going to make the most out of it and focus on what we can control. Tokyo 2021. We’re on our way.”

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Volleyball bosses trying to steer a path through coronavirus crisis

volleyball remains in a state of flux as concerns continue to grow over the worldwide spread of coronavirus. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) says it is monitoring the outbreak ‘on an hour-by-hour basis’ as it strives to navigate a safe path through the current crisis.

Read on as we take a closer look at the impact coronavirus has already had on volleyball and the effect it could have on the sport further down the line.

FIVB postpones the Volleyball Nations League

The FIVB confirmed that it was postponing the 2020 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) until after the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. The preliminary phase was due to be held during May and June, with the final stage scheduled for early July. Two-time winners Russia were amongst the favourites at gg.bet/en/volleyball to retain the title, but their bid is now on hold until later in the year. The FIVB says the decision will help athletes focus on their health and fitness, in addition to allowing national leagues to complete their seasons when the situation improves.

Beach volleyball hit by coronavirus

Beach volleyball has also been impacted by coronavirus, with the FIVB currently evaluating the status of each event on an individual status. Travel limitations and restrictions in other parts of the world have already caused the cancellation of an event in Australia that was due to take place during March. In addition, an upcoming event in Mexico has also been postponed despite the FIVB being advised that the risk level of coronavirus in the country is currently low. Further competitions in Thailand and China have also been cancelled, with more expected to follow over the coming weeks.

USA Volleyball goes into lockdown

USA Volleyball (USAV) announced it was shutting down all activities in the sport covered by its insurance up to the end of March. Individual clubs and coaches have been encouraged to adhere to the policies, although they can continue on a non-sanctioned basis under their own insurance. Some events scheduled for April have already been cancelled and more are likely to follow as fears over coronavirus continue to grow. USAV says that the “health and welfare of our membership, volleyball families and fellow citizens is our primary concern in all decisions we are making during these uncharted times”.

Olympic test event cancelled

The volleyball test event for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The event had been scheduled to take place towards the end of March, but the Japan Volleyball Association took the decision to call it off. However, while the news is a big blow to volleyball, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it is confident the Games will proceed as scheduled this summer. The IOC ruled out making ‘any drastic decisions at this stage’, although some of their members have criticised the stance.

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Quiggle, Fonoimoana continue win streak with victory at AVP Next Cincinnati

Quiggle Fonoimoana AVPNext 3/22/2020-Corinne Quiggle-Falyn Fonoimoana

After the final point had been won, and Corinne Quiggle and Falyn Fonoimoana sealed the AVP Next Gold Cincinnati title, beating Kim Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn 18-21, 21-13, 15-10, Quiggle turned to her new partner.

“Let’s keep the streak going!” she said.

“What streak?” Fonoimoana wondered.

The streak is a small one, but impressive nonetheless: Three consecutive tournament wins for the two, four if you include winning a NORCECA qualifier. They closed out the 2019 season with victories in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, and, Fonoimoana said, “I don’t think we hit any kind of high notches last time we played in a tournament. We didn’t get to train. What was it, two or three practices we had? We had no time before the NORCECA qualifier, we had no time before we went to the Dominican. We never got into a rhythm or any kind of defense. We didn’t even know if we were going to be a team going forward.”

That decision was made easier by two victories and an immediate chemistry. Neither had any set partnership plans heading into the 2020 season. Fonoimoana had competed with Nicolette Martin, Alexa Strange and Pri Lima during the 2019 season, finding various levels of success with each. Quiggle played exclusively with Amanda Dowdy, though their future was uncertain.

Two tournaments and two victories together seemed enough to move forward with Fonoimoana.

Now there’s a third win, which came March 15, to add to that streak, and it’s a big one. The AVP Next Gold tournaments not only offer hefty prize money — $15,000 purse – but a main draw bid to the winners. The Cincinnati tournament offered a bid to AVP New York, which is now the season-opening tournament for 2020.

“That was a big reason why we went,” Quiggle said. “These automatic bids are pretty huge. If we’re borderline on something and we can secure our spot.”

They are now secured for what is arguably the most important tournament of the year, in terms of points. The new dates of New York do not currently conflict with any FIVBs — time will tell what the new schedule looks like, with all of the rescheduling due to the coronavirus — meaning that it will be a full field and one of the most difficult qualifiers. With New York being a Gold Series tournament, where points are weighted heavier, a good finish could keep Quiggle and Fonoimoana out of qualifiers for the remainder of the season.

“I told her right after we won that this will be the first year that I’ve qualified for New York,” she said. “I’m really excited about that.”

Joining them in their automatic bid will be Duncan Budinger and Daniel Dalanhese, who beat Paul Lotman and Miles Partain in the men’s final. While they do not have the three-tournament win streak of Fonoimoana and Quiggle, they have had a fair amount of success together, making consecutive main draws in Manhattan Beach in 2017 and 2018. Now they’ll have another main draw together, in New York.

Eleven tournaments remain on the AVP Next Gold schedule:

April 18-19: Santa Cruz, Calif.
May 23-23: Hermosa Beach, Calif.
May 30-31: Dallas, Texas
June 13-14: Dallas, Texas
July 9-10: Oshkosh, Wis.
July 25-26: Pompano Beach, Fla.
July 31-August 2: Atlantic City, N.J.
August 7-8: Seaside, Oregon
September 12-13: San Antonio, Texas
September 19-20: Atlantic City, N.J.
December 29-January 3: Treasure Island, Fla.

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Landfair, Mruzik, Skinner headline 2020 VolleyballMag.com Girls Fab 50 |

Girls Fab 50 2020
Madisen Skinner of Houston Skyline 18 Royal hitting at the 2020 Triple Crown NIT/Coach Nickel Photography

They say everything is bigger in Texas.

That also holds true for this year’s 2020 VolleyballMag.com Girls Fab 50 rankings, the sport’s longest-running national youth rankings list that dates back four decades.

And this time around, the Lone Star state reigns supreme with 20 percent of the Fab 50 list emanating from Texas (10 of the 50 spots). California was next with seven entries. Florida and Michigan tied for third with four each.

The Girls Fab 50 is voted on each year by an elite panel of NCAA Division I coaches — the best of the best. The panel annually is asked to submit their votes for both the top 50 senior players in the country and 25 underclassmen to watch (non-seniors).

We’ll get to the club and the college breakouts with the Fab 50 in a second, but first we had quite the race for not only who is regarded as the top 2020 recruit in the nation, but who is considered one of the top five recruits in the class. In addition to submitting their votes for the Fab 50, each panelist is asked to rank the top five players in the class from 1-5.

Plainfield (Illinois) Central early graduate and Sports Performance alum Taylor Landfair, an early enrollee at Minnesota, edged Michigan signee Jess Mruzik, the winner of multiple VolleyballMag.com awards in the last year, including 2019 girls high school player of the year, for the top honor.

Landfair did so despite garnering the third-most first-place votes. A total of two points separated Landfair from runner-up Mruzik, while Kentucky signee Madisen Skinner, out of Katy, Texas and the Houston Skyline club program, had the most first-place votes among those on the list.

Skinner, despite leading the way in first-place votes, finished third in the voting, followed closely behind by Ohio native Emily Londot (Ohio State signee) and another Texas native daughter in Jenna Wenaas, who like Landfair also is headed to Hugh McCutcheon’s Golden Gophers program.

A total of 17 players on the list earned top-five voting consideration. If we unofficially extrapolated a top 10 from the voting, places 6-10 would go to Melani Shaffmaster (Minnesota recruit, No. 6), Mia Tuaniga (Long Beach State, tie No. 7), Iman Ndiaye (UCLA, tie No. 7), and then a tie for ninth place between Devyn Robinson (Wisconsin), Annie Cate Fitzpatrick (Penn State) and Anna DeBeer (Louisville). That’s seven Big Ten Conference recruits here if anybody is keeping track.

Back to the breakouts, a total of 20 states are represented in the Fab 50 list with a large concentration in the Midwest region.

In terms of individual clubs, Texas-based TAV knocked it out of the park with eight players on the Fab 50. That list includes Madison Williams (Texas recruit), Wenaas (Minnesota), Leilah Smith (Stanford), Annabelle Smith (Stanford), Nnedi Okammor (Florida), Ndiaye (UCLA), Kate Lang (Hawai’i) and Paige Flickinger (LSU).

Michigan-based Legacy was next with four Fab 50 picks, while San Diego-based Coast had three.

On the college front, everybody gets rich! Thirty schools are represented on the list with Stanford, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Kentucky, Florida and Minnesota with three Fab 50s each. Our 2020 women’s college recruiting class rankings later this spring should be interesting to say the least.

We also, as custom, present our 2020 VolleyballMag.com Underclassmen to Watch List, which features 25 up-and-coming non-senior players to keep an eye on. Keep in mind, this is not a Top 25 underclassmen in the country list, rather a simple compilation of the voting panelists’ players to keep an eye on.

To break things down a bit more, just as with the Fab 50, Texas is at the top of the list with six players on the 25 Underclassmen to Watch List from that state. California is a close seconds with five, while Illinois and Nebraska each boasted three.

Texas-based TAV continues to churn out the college prospects with three players on this list, while Alabama Performance, A5 out of Georgia, Mizuno Long Beach and Tstreet out of Southern California each had two players on the 25 list.

And to get a little sneak peek at what the 2021 women’s college recruiting class rankings might look like, Nebraska has five recruits on the 25 list, while USC and Florida have three each and Penn State has two.

Of note, all 25 members of the 2019 Underclassmen to Watch List graduated to this year’s Fab 50 list.

Later this spring, we’ll have the aforementioned women’s college recruiting classes, plus the 2020 Boys Fab 50 and 25 Underclassmen to Watch lists.

Iman Ndiaye of TAV 18 Black at Triple Crown NIT/Coach Nickel Photography
2020 VolleyballMag.com Girls Fab 50
Name, Position, School, Club, College

Madi Allen, 5-8, Libero, Great Oak (Temecula, California), Coast, BYU
Maddy Bilinovic, 5-7, Libero, Independence (Ohio) Academy Cleveland, Penn State
Naomi Cabello, 6-1, S, East Ridge (Clermont, Florida), Top Select, Texas
Aliyah Carter, 5-11, OH, Wahlert (Dubuque, Iowa), Eastern Iowa Extreme, Kansas State
Caroline Crawford, 6-3, MB Lansing (Kansas), MAVS, Kansas
Celia Cullen 6-1, S, Brighton (Michigan), Legacy, Michigan State
Julianna Dalton, 6-4, OH, Chaparral (Parker, Colorado), Front Range, Washington St.
Anna DeBeer, 5-11, OH, Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky), KiVA, Louisville
Jade Demps, 6-2, OH, Broughton (Raleigh, North Carolina), Triangle, Wisconsin
Leilani Dodson, 6-1, MB, Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Illinois), Adversity, BYU
Maddie Endsley of Coast 18-1 hitting at Triple Crown NIT/Coach Nickel Photography
Maddie Endsley, 6-2, OH, Cathedral (San Diego, California), Coast, Washington
Sophie Fischer, 6-5, OH-MB, Nation Ford (Fort Mill, S.C.), Carolina Rogue, North Carolina
Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, 6-0, OH, Trinity Catholic (Ocala, Florida), Ocala Power, Penn State
Paige Flickinger, 5-8, OH-libero, Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, Texas), TAV, LSU
Sarah Franklin, 6-4, OH, Lake Worth Chrs. (Boynton Beach, Florida), Palm Beach Jrs., Mich. St.
Kari Geissberger, 6-5, OH-MB, Marin (Kentfield, California), Absolute, Loyola Marymount
Elise Goetzinger, 6-4, MB, Mount Horeb (Wisconsin), Milwaukee Sting, Kentucky
Madison Hammill, 6-0, S, Center Grove (Greenwood Indiana), Munciana, Wisconsin
Birdie Hendrickson, 6-2, S, Logan-Rogersville (Missouri), Springfield Juniors, Florida
Jaelyn Hodge, 6-1, OH, Basha (Chandler, Arizona), Arizona Revolution, Arizona
Nalani Iosia, 5-6, Libero, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, California), Long Beach, Texas
Allison Jacobs, 5-11, OH, West Ranch (Stevenson Ranch, California), Legacy, UCLA
Scottee Johnson, 6-0, S, Centerville (Ohio), Mintonette, Michigan
Taylor Landfair, 6-4, OH, Plainfield Central (Illinois), Sports Performance, Minnesota
Kate Lang, 5-10, S, Keller (Texas), TAV, Hawaii
Emily Londot, 6-4, RS, Utica (Ohio), Mintonette, Ohio State
Elli McKissock, 5-5, Libero, First Academy (Orlando, Florida), Top Select, Florida
Kaya Merkler, 6-3, MB, Chapel Hill (North Carolina), Triangle, North Carolina
Kalynn Meyer, 6-3, MB, Superior (Nebraska), VC Nebraska, Nebraska
Lindsey Miller, 6-4, MB, Cathedral (San Diego, California), Coast, Notre Dame
Hattie Monson, 5-4, Libero, Benet (Lisle, Illinois), Sports Performance, Notre Dame
Jess Mruzik, 6-1, OH, Mercy (Farmington Hills, Michigan), Legacy, Michigan
Kendall Murray, 6-2, OH, Skyline (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Legacy, Michigan
Iman Ndiaye, 6-2, RS-OH, Plano West (Texas), TAV, UCLA
Elena Ogilvie, 5-10, L-OH, Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii), Ku’Ikahi, Stanford
Nnedi Okammor, 6-4, MB, Hebron (Carrollton, Texas), TAV, Florida
Rylee Rader, 6-3, MB, Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky), KiVA, Ohio State
Kiara Reinhardt, 6-3, MB, Cedarburg (Wisconsin), Milwaukee Sting, Creighton
Devyn Robinson, 6-1, MB, Centennial (Ankeny, Iowa), Iowa PowerPlex, Wisconsin
Alexa Rousseau,  6-3, S, Bloomfield Hills (Michigan), Legacy, Northwestern
Reagan Rutherford, 6-0, RS-S, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas), Skyline, Kentucky
Melani Shaffmaster, 6-4, S, New Castle (Indiana), Munciana, Minnesota
Madisen Skinner, 6-2, OH, Faith West (Katy, Texas), Houston Skyline, Kentucky
Annabelle Smith, 6-3, MB, Carroll (Southlake, Texas), TAV, Stanford
Leilah Smith, 6-4, MB, Hockaday School (Dallas, Texas), TAV, Stanford
Tommi Stockham, 6-2, OH, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), Dig This, Indiana
Mia Tuaniga, 5-9, S, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California), Apex1, Long Beach St.
Jenna Wenaas, 6-1, OH, Liberty (Frisco, Texas), TAV, Minnesota
Madison Williams, 6-1, OH, Lake Ridge (Mansfield, Texas), TAV, Texas
Maddie Whittington, 6-3, RS-MB, Stillwater (Minnesota), Kokoro, Illinois
Top 5 Players in Class of 2020
1 — Taylor Landfair (Minnesota)
2 — Jess Mruzik (Michigan)
3 — Madisen Skinner (Kentucky)
4 — Emily Londot (Ohio State)
5 — Jenna Wenaas (Minnesota)
Hattie Monson of Sports Performance
2020 VolleyballMag.com Girls 25 Underclassmen to Watch List
Name, Height, Position, Year, High School, Club, Commitment
Tyrah Ariail, 6-0, MB, Jr., Lebanon Trail (Plano, Texas), TAV, USC
Ally Batenhorst, 6-4, OH, Jr., Seven Lakes (Katy, Texas),Houston Juniors, Nebraska
Merritt Beason, 6-3, OH, Jr., Gardendale (Alabama), Alabama Performance, Florida
Jacque Boney, 6-4, MB, Jr, Marist (Atlanta, Georgia), A5, Michigan
Gabrielle Essix, 6-4, MB, Jr., Hoover (Alabama), Alabama Performance, Florida
Samantha Francis, 6-6, MB, Jr., La Jolla (California) Country Day, Coast, NA
Elle Glock, 6-0, S, Jr., Wahoo (Nebraksa), VC Nebraska, USC
Rylee Gray, 6-2, MB, Jr., Elkhorn South (Omaha, Nebraska) Nebraska Elite, Nebraska
Ngozi Iloh, 6-1, MB, Jr., McIntosh (Peachtree City, Georgia), A5 South, NA
Bre Kelley, 6-3, MB, Jr., Rockwell (Texas)-Heath, Excel, Florida
Lindsay Krause, 6-3, OH, Jr., Skutt (Omaha, Nebraska), Premier Nebraska, Nebraska
Charitie Luper, 5-8, OH, Jr., Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, Texas), TAV, UCLA
Eve Magill, 6-5, OH, Jr., Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Six Pack, Creighton
Kami Miner, 6-1, S-RS, Jr., Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Long Beach, NA
Rachel Muisenga, 6-1, S, Benet Academy (Lisle, Illinois), Adversity, Penn State
Aubrey O’Gorman, 6-3, MB, Jr., Lakewood (Lake Odessa, Michigan), FaR Out, Michigan State
Kennedi Orr, 6-0, S, Jr., Eagan (Minnesota), Northern Lights, Nebraska
Lexi Rodriguez, 5-7, Libero, Jr., Sterling (Illinois), Club Fusion, Nebraska
Katelyn Smith, 6-2, RS-MB, Jr., Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, California), Tstreet, USC
Anjelina Starck, 6-2, RS-S, Jr., Rampart (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Colorado Jrs., Penn State
Elyse Stowell, 6-1, OH, Jr., Esperanza (Anaheim, California), Tstreet, BYU
Jordyn Williams, 6-2, MB, Jr., Guyer (Denton, Texas), TAV, Kentucky
Starr Williams, 6-3, OH, Jr., Colony (Ontario, California), Long Beach, Long Beach St.
Cimone Woodard, 6-3, MB, Jr., Episcopal (Bellaire, Texas), Houston Skyline, Texas A&M
Ella Wrobel, 6-4, OH-RS, Soph., Plainfield (Illinois) North, Sports Performance, NA
Mia Tuaniga setting for Mater Dei

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“It’s OK. We have our health”

NCAA men's volleyball 3/17/2020-Shawn Olmstead-BYU mens volleyball
BYU coach Shawn Olmstead: “There’s always going to be the what if, what could have been.”/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

At the end of this story is a video interview Rob Espero did with Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe about the season ending because of the coronavirus.

Less than two weeks ago, undefeated No. 1 Hawai’i played host to undefeated No. 2 BYU, as they played back-to-back matches on a Thursday and a Friday. BYU stunned Hawai’i with a sweep on the first night, but the Rainbow Warriors got some redemption Friday winning a five-set show-stopper of a match that went all the way to 19-17 in the fifth.

The series was the highlight of the 2020 season. But it also turned out to be one of the last matches played before the NCAA made the decision to cancel the remainder of the season for all winter and spring sports in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not to make light of what’s going on throughout the world right now, but if God has a sense of humor, that was it,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We were undefeated, they were undefeated, and we went out there and the collective volleyball world was watching.”

And of course, having won the first match in three and then losing narrowly in five, BYU, which earned the No. 1 ranking in last Monday’s AVCA Division I-II top 15 poll with a 17-1 record, thinks it established itself as the best team in the country and the favorite to win the 2020 national championship — although that title will forever remain vacant.

“There’s always going to be the what if, what could have been,” Olmstead said. “Like I said to the guys, I believe they are the best team in the country. There’s no question in my mind. They’ve proven that. They’ve played the best schedule, they went on the road against the best teams, they won here at home every match they played in, and their body of work thus far was exactly that, the No. 1 team in the country.

“So, it does make it a little more difficult because in the end, there is going to be that part of unfinished business, but if they can dig deep and find some sense of pride and happiness and some sense of joy in the work in the effort that they’ve put forward.”

BYU is not the only men’s volleyball team that feels it’s been robbed of a potential national-championship-winning season. Hawai’i, despite the straight-set loss to BYU, was ranked No. 1 for most of the season and dropped just two sets in the first 14 matches of the season.

“We knew we had a good group returning as we have the last few years and were just looking to see how far we could take it,” Hawai’i coach Charlie Wade said.

When asked how he visualized the season ending, he was quick to say, “Winning the national championship.”

Lewis coach Dan Friend

Dan Friend — coach at Lewis, which ranked No. 5 with a 15-4 record in the March 9 AVCA poll — also mourns the opportunity for an especially talented group to prove itself.

“That’s what’s tough,” he said. “You get special groups. You can’t always compete for it each year, but you get years where the groups are just a little bit better. We certainly had one of those groups this year.”

The nation’s No. 3 ranked team as of March 9 — and the previous seven weeks of the season — UC Santa Barbara also deserves to be in that conversation of teams that had to let go of what was a very promising season. The Gauchos end the season 14-2 after starting out on a six-match sweep streak and sustained their only losses at the hands of BYU.

Laden with seniors, the 2020 UCSB roster features seven players who have now played their last college volleyball match (that is, barring an NCAA decision to grant an additional season to winter/spring sport athletes, but that is definitely another story). Five of those seven started for the Gauchos this spring.

That group includes opposite Keenan Sanders, who, with 113 kills on 188 attempts and just 15 errors, boasts the nation’s second-highest hitting percentage (.521). Senior outside hitter Randy DeWeese ended his career with back-to-back Big West player-of-the-week awards, and setter Casey McGarry quarterbacked UCSB to the fifth-best hitting percentage in the nation (.333) and led the team with 139 digs. Starting outside Roy McFarland and libero Grady Yould are also members of the Class of 2020.

The Gauchos were playing some really good volleyball and likely had a solid chance at making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. Just two weeks ago, in a feature on this very website, UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin (who could not be reached for this story) looked forward to possibly getting a third chance at BYU down the road.

“The good thing is that our guys know exactly what they need to do to win,” he said. “And I hope and pray that we play BYU again, because I know our guys would love it. They’d be ready.”


Last Thursday (March 13), when word of the cancellations started coming down, first from conferences and then the NCAA itself, BYU was preparing to board its flight to Northern California for a Friday-night match at Stanford.

A player saw the news of the Pac-12 cancelling its basketball tournament — and all other spring sports, competitions, and championships — come through on his smartphone and notified his coach, so Olmstead dialed up Stanford coach John Kosty to check on the status of the next day’s match.

Turns out, that was the first Kosty had heard of the Pac-12 cancellations. Unable to get a hold of his athletic director, who was no doubt in closed-door meetings trying to hash everything out, Kosty told Olmstead and his team not to get on their flight.

Just minutes before they were to board, the team turned around and left the airport.

“Delta was awesome and literally went on the plane and took off all our bags,” Olmstead said, “so luckily we didn’t get out to California and then have to turn right around, which has happened to some of our other sports — (BYU’s softball team) went all the way to Alabama.”

But even heading back to Provo, the finality of everything hadn’t quite set in. That didn’t happen until a team meeting that evening after the coaches had a chance to speak to the administration and were able to finally pass down the word to the players that the season was officially over.

“It was probably the toughest meeting that I’ve ever had to be a part of for sure,” Olmstead said. “Everyone was in tears, and the guys stuck around and embraced the seniors for a while after the meeting was over and just told them thanks and how much they meant to them.”

Olmstead made a point to acknowledge the wider impact and suffering caused by coronavirus around the world, saying, “This is just a sport, this is a game.”

“But to these student athletes,” he continued, “it’s their life, and it’s something that for them at their age, they’ve put their heart and soul into. We can’t thank them enough from the coaching staff side for all that they’ve put into it and all the trust they’ve given us and the belief they’ve put into our team and our culture.”

UH coach Charlie Wade: This certainly reminds us not to take any of this for granted because it can go away at any moment.”/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Hawai’i made it all the way to Southern California before hearing that its double-header with Cal State Northridge would not happen, and then soon after that the entire season had been nixed. On Friday when I spoke to Wade, he and his team were at LAX working their way back to Honolulu.

“Everybody is disappointed the season is over,” Wade said. “We knew we were good enough to win this year, and we wanted to see it through.”

The week before, those two matches versus BYU brought almost 7,000 fans to the Stan Sheriff Center for Thursday night’s match and more than 10,000 for Friday’s. That level of support, which of course Hawai’i is used to and known for, made it easy for Wade to summon gratitude, even in the face of great disappointment.

“The takeaway from this whole thing is just how grateful I think we all are to do what we love to do and have so many people be appreciative of it and have such a positive impact on so many people’s lives,” Wade said. “Certainly grateful to have just an amazing group of young men that are fully committed to being the best and grateful to the leadership at the university, they give us this opportunity to represent the state. This certainly reminds us not to take any of this for granted because it can go away at any moment.”

Friday morning, Friend was still processing. He and his team got the news on Thursday just hours before they were scheduled to drive across town for a match versus Loyola.

“(The team is feeling) like they got smacked in the face,” Friend said. “I got a couple phone calls (Thursday) night, and I tried to tell them to take a deep breath.

“I tried to put some things in perspective. The bigger picture of looking at, hey, the guy down the street that works a 9-5 job, his kids might be sent home and how is he going to support them and take care of them at the same time … It’s OK. We have our health. We’re in a good spot. You guys have certainly been privileged to play volleyball at a high level and be in a unique situation. So it’s not diminishing what is happening but putting some of that in perspective.”

And yet, Friend expressed frustration at the NCAA’s decision to cancel all winter and spring sports, even those with championships almost two months down the road.

“I get the immediate kind of, hey, we need to cancel everything, but the unfortunate part is why are we not doing a reassessment April 1?” Friend said.

In the meantime, Wade, Olmstead, and Friend all retain hope of getting back in the gym with their teams sometime this spring and at least training the underclassmen for the seasons to come.

“It’s kind of like, that’s the whole goal of what we do, be able to train our athletes,” Friend said. “If for some reason there’s not anything to play for at the end of this year, I kind of respect that, but at the same time, we have kids coming back that want to get better for next year.”

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Men’s volleyball will not close in the back-to-back matches!

Lewis and Stanford played 361 of the total points in about eight frames that are spanning two four of the set matches. Moreover, Flyers won about 13 additional points than Cardinal — 187-174 that is across complete weekend. Inspite of slim or little margins, the numbers which are mattered in end are two tallies of Lewis in win column. For playing the game online at apostar carreras de caballos is right as you need to always look for the reliable and authentic source to play the online games.

On the other hand, Against No. 5 Lewis that is about 15-4, 6-1 MIVA, the proper lack of consistency as well as experience has also proved incurable for men’s volleyball team no 13 that includes 6-11, 2-4 MPSF, that also was not able to maintain the solid gameplay for pulling out wins on this Friday or this Saturday.

On the other hand the Midway through the fourth set in the match one and the junior middle Kyler Presho that has left subsequent to twisting their ankle coming down from the block. Also, Madeleine Gates younger broker, Freshman Nathaniel Gates on the team of women has finished out the Friday night and has also got the beginning on the Saturday.

Between the Gates, Will Rottman, outside hitter and the redshirt libero known as Justin Lui as well as the setter Nathan Lietzke, Cardinal fielded with four freshmen on this Saturday. On the other hand, young athletes also had abundance of opportunities for showing off skill, they even lacked experience and they also focus of the veteran squad. Also, Cardinal consistently even fell behind Lewis even before recouping the losses at end of the sets, just falling short in final points.

Moreover, Stanford opened have weekend with the much emphatic first-set of 25-15 win. Also, Five Cardinal aces even held Flyers to hit in negatives, on the other hand Stanford soared at.421 clip. This would be just one time in two matches when Lewis hit less than .300 in the set also when Stanford hit more than .300.

Lewis even responded with their frame of 25-14 prior to even seeking out the wins of 25-23 to secure the victory on Friday. Saturday also saw Stanford to take set about 25-22 subsequent to falling of the 25-18 in initial frame. Over the time again, Flyers escaped through the consecutive win of 25-23 wins to simply close out this match.

When both these teams passed mark of 20-point, Lewis will certainly surge though Stanford will also fall short. In the three among four losses of 25-23, Cardinal also held a key five and less point from the victory prior to allowing Lewis about simply scrapping together runs of about 4-5 points.

Cardinal offense has also faltered Friday night because of the poor passing, however back also row rallied on the Saturday, thereby allowing great involvement from middles. The blocker Stephen, Senior middle also took 13 swings for Saturday as well as stay connected with eight of them, thereby committing just a single error to lead entire team with the hitting percentage of .538.

In these matches, Lietzke has also turned to junior that is opposite to Jaylen Jasper. Jasperhas also put up about identical statlines with the recording of about 18 kills both the nights together with 8 as well as 9 errors on Saturday and Friday, correspondingly.

On the other hand, Jasper was just the Stanford attacker to simply reach double digits on this Friday, but in second match they has also was joined along Rottman, that tallied with 14 kills.

On the other hand, Stanford as well as Lewis has played total of 361 points in 8 frames thereby spanning two four match set. On the other hand, even Flyers won about 13 additional points as compared to Cardinal — with 187-174 — that is across the complete weekend. Inspite of the little of less margins, the numbers that actually mattered in end are two tallies of Lewis in win column.


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FIVB Doha: Poland’s Fijalek-Bryl win first gold, silver for Mexicans

FIVB Doha Qatar 3/13/2020-Grzegorz Fijalek
Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek digs in semifinal play/FIVB photo

Seevnth-seeded Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland defeated Mexico’s Josue Gaxiola and Jose Rubio 16-21, 21-19, 15-11 Friday at the FIVB four-star beach volleyball tournament in Doha, Qatar.

It’s the pair’s first gold on the world tour, improving upon their previous silver at the 2018 Vienna five-star. The gold medal is Fijalek’s second, with a previous win with Mariusz Prudel in The Hague 2014.

The Poles thwarted the Mexican’s bid to earn their country’s first gold medal. They came out of the qualifier to earn their first FIVB medal in the pair’s second world tour event. They finished 17th in Chetumal.

Relatively unknown, Gaxiola-Rubio have competed in 12 events on the NORCECA tour, with a gold medal in Bonaire and silvers in Punta Cana (twice) and Guatemala City.

Mexico won the first set on the strength of Rubio’s active blocking, but the Poles recovered with their varied offense and tough serving.

In the third set, Poland built a 12-8 lead, but Mexico made a comeback bid before Bryl blocked a Rubio shot to go up 13-11.

“It wasn’t our best game,” Fijalek said, “but we’re very, very happy to win. We were very nervous. The young boys, they have a good flow, they played great this week. It’s our first gold medal and we hope we hope we can keep our level up in the next tournament.”

Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo won the bronze medal with a 21-19, 21-17 win over Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt. The Italians and two-time Olympians have already earned their 2020 Olympic berth, winning the Olympic qualifier in Haiyang, China.

In previous semifinal action, Bryl and Fijalek defeated Nicolai and Lupo 28-26, 21-18, while Gaxiola and Rubio edged Goncalves and Schmidt 22-20, 22-20.

The World Tour now moves to Coolangatta, Australia, for a three-star event that starts Tuesday.

FIVB Doha Qatar 3/13/2020-Jose Rubio
Mexico’s Jose Rubio passes in the gold-medal match/FIVB photo

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11 more clubs qualify for USA Volleyball nationals |

Girls 18s volleyball 3/11/2020-
A4 18s Joaco Purple earned its GJNC bid in Reno/Ed Chan, VBshots./com

At the very least, the final four 18s national qualifiers are going to create an intense debate for which clubs deserve the at-larges, which currently sit at three after the busiest weekend we’ve seen. No less than 11 more clubs punched tickets to the USA Volleyball 18s Girls Junior National Championship in Reno in May.

Wave 18 Kevin, Rage 18 Greg and A4 Volley 18 Purple Joaco qualified in Reno, while Six Pack 18-1 and VA Elite 18s did the same in Baltimore. In Florida, Academy 18 Diamond, OT 18 Roberto and Genesis Elite 18 Royalty picked up bids. EC Power KOP 18 Royal, Rockwood Thunder 18 Elite and CUVC 18 Premier rounded out the qualifiers playing in Boston.

Here’s where the 18 Open bid chase stands:
Bids awarded: 33
At-larges available: 3
Bids remaining: 12
Qualified Teams:
Chicago — Circle City; Sky High; Legacy
Music City — Mintonette; Union; North Pacific Jrs
Ohio Valley — Mintonette*; Legacy*; PNK; Top Select; Metro
Northern Lights — Coast; Houston Jrs; Apex1
Dallas — Skyline; TAV; Austin Jrs
Beast of the Southeast — A5; Seal Beach; OT Dexter
Lone Star Classic – Houston Skyline; MAVS*; San Gabriel Elite; Houston Jrs*; KC Power
Reno — Wave; Rage; A4
Boston — EC Power KOP; Apex1*; Rockwood Thunder; Carolina Union
Sunshine — Houston Skyline*; Academy Diamond; Houston Jrs*; OT Roberto; Genesis Elite
Baltimore — A5*; Six Pack; VA Elite
*already qualified

Left are the Crossroads, Mideast, Pacific Northwest and SCVA Red Rock qualifiers. Crossroads is up this weekend and all three bids are going to be handed out. In fact, what’s fascinating is no teams in the 18 Open field are qualified. That means a top-three finish to bid. Also, all three bids are going out at PNQ for sure, with four qualified teams in the field and trickle-down potentially reaching seventh place. But, nothing is guaranteed at MEQ or SCVA.

In Indy, a whopping 16 clubs arrive next weekend with bids. With trickle-down only able to extend to eighth place, it’s possible no bids go out. It’s more likely bids go out in Las Vegas, where nine clubs currently have bids and likely a 10th in Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar, which is favored to qualify in Spokane the week before. Still, not all three could be awarded and more could wind up in the at-large pool. That’s a whole other story going on. There are at least three at-large spots available, so putting together the best results possible matters a lot to clubs that end up not qualifying outright.

Rockwood Thunder 18s
Here’s a list of the top 18s teams without bids:
Ku’Ikahi 18 Wahine RSB (3rd Triple Crown)
Vision 18 Gold (7th Triple Crown; 4th Reno; 5th Chicago)
AZ EVJ 18 Tempe (11th Triple Crown)
Adversity 18 Adidas (13th Triple Crown; 4th Chicago)
Ka Ulukoa 18 Black (13th Triple Crown)
AZ Storm Elite 18 Thunder (18th at Triple Crown; 7th Northern Lights)
Excel 18 National Red (19th Triple Crown; 5th Dallas; 9th Austin; 4th Nashville)
MKE Sting 18 Gold (7th Chicago; 6th Northern Lights)
AVC Clev Rox 18 Red (9th Ohio; 5th Baltimore)
Premier Nebraska 18 Gold (3rd Kansas City)
Mizuno Long Beach 18 Rockstar (Won SCVA Las Vegas Classic)
MichioChicago 18 National (5th Chicago)
Elevation 18 Butcher (7th Ohio)
FRVBC 18 Black (4th Northern Lights)
Laguna Beach 18-1 (3rd SCVA Las Vegas Classic)
Austin Skyline 18 Royal (4th Dallas; 11th Austin)
Rage Westside 18 Jen (5th Dallas; 6th Reno)
Upward Stars 18 Corey (5th Atlanta)
Top teams without a bid playing this weekend at Crossroads includes Austin Skyline, AV EVJ, AZ Storm, Club V, Elevation, Front Range, Premier Nebraska and Vision.

Sunshine Classic
It’s clear Houston Skyline 18 Royal wasn’t pleased with its 19th-place showing at Triple Crown last month. All Houston Skyline — which finished fifth in 17 Open a summer ago — has done in response is capture back-to-back qualifiers without losing a match. Two weekends ago, Houston Skyline officially qualified by winning in Austin and then did it again this past weekend in Orlando, going 9-0 and winning its second qualifier in as many tries. Of course, Houston Skyline already had its bid so it helped create trickle down, as did previously-qualified Houston Jrs 18 Elite which came in third. That allowed Academy 18 Diamond (2nd), OT 18 Roberto (4th) and Genesis Elite 18 Royalty (5th) to leave with bids. It was a tough field, with Top Select 18 Blue (6th), Legacy 18 Adidas (9th), OT 18 Dexter (10th) and Austin Jrs 18 Mizuno (11th) all coming in with bids.

Meanwhile, Houston Skyline dropped just one set. It came on the second second day, when Houston Skyline outlasted OT Roberto 20-25, 25-14, 15-9. Both were in the gold pool together along with Academy and HJV on the final day. With trickle-down in play, Academy and OT had bids clinched going to bed Saturday night. Houston Skyline won the gold pool at 3-0, with Academy going 2-1, HJV 1-2 and OT Roberto 0-3. The setback to Houston Skyline was the only defeat on the weekend for Academy, which has benefitted from the arrival of outside Jade Demps from Triangle. The real drama was saved for the silver bracket, where Tstreet 18 Mike, OVA 18 Black and Genesis Elite all were playing for the final bid. Top Select was the fourth team and eased some of the drama by beating OVA and making the silver final. That allowed Genesis to clinch its bid by clipping Tstreet in three 25-18, 18-25, 17-15. Genesis went on to down Top Select 25-18, 25-22 for fifth.

Girls 18s volleyball 3/11/2020-A4 Volley 18 Purple Joaco
A4 Volley 18 Purple Joaco

No teams were previously qualified in the smaller field of 15. However, since 17 clubs were originally registered, the event still awarded three bids and that was great news on the final day for A4 Volley 18 Purple Joaco. A4 was in a four-team gold pool with Rage 18 Greg, Wave 18 Kevin and Vision 18 Gold. It was straight forward, with one club knowing it was going to leave empty-handed. Once Wave swept A4 in the fourth match, the bids were clinched. Vision, at 0-2, was left out no matter what happened in its final outing against Wave. Even beating Wave, Vision would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker against either Rage or A4. Wave went on to sweep Vision to win the qualifier, with Rage downing A4 for second place. A4 edged Vision 26-24, 18-25, 15-13 in their meeting and that was the difference for A4 qualifying and Vision not. For all three teams that qualified it was their first qualifying attempt.

Apex1 18 Black was the lone qualified team and that meant finishing no lower than fourth place should Apex create trickle down. Apex was alive in one of the two, three-team gold pools to begin the last day. Apex won its pool, reaching the final and assuring the fourth-place finisher would qualify. CUVC and Rockwood Thunder grabbed second in their respective pools to get the bids, with EC Power winning its pool and meeting Apex in the final. EC Power beat Apex 25-20, 21-25, 15-10 in the final after losing to Apex in three on Day 2. Rockwood Thunder beat CUVC 19-25, 25-10, 15-10 in the third-place contest. Coming up short by finishing in third place in their respective pools were AVC Clev Rox 18 Red and Madfrog 18 Green. For CUVC, it was the first time the club qualified a team in Open. Rockwood Thunder had already earned a National bid through the region but will move up to Open after qualifying. Rockwood Thunder is set to participate in the SCVA Red Rock Rave at the end of the month.

Two bids were on the line in Baltimore and they were decided before the final day started. With previously-qualified A5 Mizuno 18 Scott and Metro 18 Travel making the four-team gold pool it was a wrap. Six Pack 18 and VA Elite 18s joined A5 and Metro in the gold pool, earning the bids before serving a single ball on the third day. For A5, it continues a run that began with a silver-medal showing in 18 Elite at Triple Crown. A5 then qualified for Open by winning the Beast of the Southeast qualifier in Atlanta. In Baltimore, A5 went 9-0 to gain its second qualifier victory. Six Pack provided the toughest tests, twice taking A5 to three sets. A5 closed out the second day by clipping the Iowa club 15-25, 25-14, 15-13, then did it again on the third day by winning 26-24, 17-25, 15-11. Six Pack also lost to Metro on the final day but did down VA Elite 25-19, 17-25, 15-5. VA Elite was victorious in its first six matches, including upending Metro 19-25, 25-22, 15-9 to start day two. VA Elite also beat Metro 13-25, 25-21, 15-12 on the third day to go 1-2.

Wave 18s

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Teen Volleyball Player & TikTok Maker: Katlynn Gill

Hello everyone we had the chance to interview teen volleyball player and TikTok maker Katlynn Gill. 

Katlynn is a teen volleyball player for her local high school. She also enjoys making cool  TikToks in her free time outside of school whenever she’s not playing volleyball.

She currently has 15.3k followers on instagram. Make sure you checkout her page and show her some love.

How old are you? 

I’m 18 and my birthday is October 20,2001 

What are some of your favorite volleyball games you’ve played in?

All my volleyball games have memorable moments so it’s hard to chose just one, but I’ve been playing since I was 9, and the friendships I’ve made over all these years and the memories I’ve shared with my teammates are irreplaceable and will stick with me forever.

What’s your favorite trend to follow on TikTok?

My favorite TikTok trends are any dancing trends that encourage creators to get up, get moving, and have fun with it!

I personally don’t have just one specific category to fit my personal content to, because I love getting a taste of it all and putting a smile on everyone’s face while I’m doing it. 🙂

I personally don’t have just one specific category to fit my personal content to, because I love getting a taste of it all and putting a smile on everyone’s face while I’m doing it. 🙂

What are you plans for the future?

In terms of my future, I hope to grow my social media platforms as much as I possibly can, and then I am headed to the university of Tennessee Knoxville where I will be attending the college of nursing, from there, who knows what life has in store but I can’t wait, and I have the best and most supportive fans by my side to support me all the way 

Do you have any advice for teens in your field?

To anyone trying to grow a fan base on any social media platform, my advice would be to be yourself and never let the haters bring you down… for TikTok.

I would say to use trending sounds and hashtags you see on your personal fyp, because those hashtags and sounds have a better chance of landing on someone else’s. No matter what, be yourself and have fun with it! 

If you liked this article make sure you checkout our recent interview with: Basketball Videographer: Josh Englert.

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