International Volleyball

Tawa’s Club Volleyball Dots: Lone Star had many, NE did too. Who wins 18s in Baltimore? Don’t know. Do you?

Tawa’s Club Volleyball Dots: Lone Star had many, NE did too. Who wins 18s in Baltimore? Don't know. Do you?

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.

• Our Dots focus this week takes us back to Philly and Dallas, where NEQ and Lone Star held Open qualifiers with fascinating results; and forward to Baltimore, where 18s Junior Nationals is prepping for a three-day run in the Charm City.

Let’s start at NEQ and the 34-team 15 Open field last weekend.


A5 15 Kelly blocked its way to the title at NEQ

A5 15 Kelly, which qualified previously at MEQ, now has to be part of the national championship conversation after its 9-0 showing in Philadelphia, which included sweeps over other Open-qualified teams in the semifinals and finals.

“This team continues to grow and get what comes to great teams last… consistency,” said coach Kelly Audia.

Audia said that in the run up to NEQ, he talked to his team about being focused on the type of play that could prove it belongs among the elite Open teams.

“During Master Coaching practices, we would remind ourselves of what we were training for,” he explained. “We pushed ourselves to get out of ‘comfortable zones’ in practice and to consider those older A5 teams we scrimmaged the teams we would face. It really worked to our advantage.”

On Friday, after Day 1 was concluded, Audia texted me: “Marissa is ridiculous.” He was referring to setter Marissa Jones, the consensus top of her class nationally at the position. Jones dominated the event for all three days.

“She is getting better and that is SCARY to think about,” said Audia, who coached collegiately at Clemson, Xavier and Georgia State. “Between quick connections with bouncy middles and keeping the opposing block off balance by being aggressive offensively herself, she frustrated opponents all weekend.”

Jones averaged 11assists, 2.3 kills and 1.3 blocks per set for the tournament. That’s incredible output!

Besides Jones, team blocking was the critical factor in assuring A5’s top-of-the-podium finish.

“The blocking was an eraser for any error in any other part of our game all weekend,” Audia noted.

MBs Kylee Evans and Audrey Simpson joined Jones in putting up a massive roof. Evans also was a thumper on offense, as were RS Layla Dunn, who was unstoppable in system; and OH Mia Ray, who had seven kills in the final over WAVE 15 Brennan. Libero Kenzie Wilkie also was a…

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