International Volleyball

Tawa’s Club Dots: Recapping AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships

Tawa’s Club Dots: Recapping AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships

During the season, Dots consists of a collection of notes and highlights from the previous week in girls club volleyball. In this case, this edition recaps AAU Nationals with one more Dots to go this summer when we recap USA Volleyball girls nationals.

• The 51st edition of AAU Girls Junior Nationals concluded last week in Orlando. Let’s take a look at what transpired in the four age divisions we cover, starting with 18s, where Munciana 18 Samurai repeated as 18 Open champions. Mike Lingenfelter’s team showed dominance in going 8-0 with just two dropped sets over the four-day event.

Muncie won despite playing without its starting setter and right side and backup middle. The team thrived thanks to its trademark back row, which may not have any peer in club volleyball; and the hitting of outsides Abby Tindall and Lindsey Mangelson.

• It should be noted that only seven teams competed in 18 Open, down from 12 a year ago. This continues a trend of 18s teams ending their seasons earlier than everyone else, which started USA Volleyball eight years ago started conducting its Junior National Championships for 18s as a stand-alone event in April.

In order for play to last four days with only seven in the field, the teams played best-of-five matches. Munciana went 6-0 in pool play, which comprised all seven teams; then swept WVBA 18 Adidas in the semifinals before defeating tough FaR Out 18 Black in a four-set final.

Munciana’s win was not a surprise. The team went 7-2 in 18 Open at USAV’s 18s Junior National Championships in April and finished second to Triangle 18 Black two weeks before that at the UA 18U National Championships in Louisville.

• What’s most surprising about 18 Open at AAUs was that Sports Performance 18 Elite was not a participant. Historically, one might expect Munciana and SPVB to engage in a titanic struggle for supremacy at AAUs. This year, with Sports Performance acknowledging the trend that 18s end their seasons in April, the club decided to let seniors decide whether to play through June. Only five seniors in the club decided to do so. This caused the flagship 18 Elite team, which had only two seniors to begin with, to convert to a 17s team for AAU Nationals.

The loss of 18 Elite, combined with so few teams participating in 18 Open in Orlando, means this was probably the last June 18 Open AAU championships.

“The event has to conclude in April to continue to exist,” Lingenfelter said.

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