Saturday, 3 June 2023

International Volleyball

Tawa’s Club Volleyball Dots: WAVE crests; FaR Out title; younger teams win last chance in Reno

Tawa’s Club Volleyball Dots: WAVE crests; FaR Out title; younger teams win last chance in Reno

This is “Dots,”’s weekly look at 10 things in club volleyball (or in this case, 13), past or present, that interest me and hopefully will interest you. Look for Dots every Tuesday through Junior Nationals this summer:

• Columbus, Ohio played host to USA Volleyball’s 18s Junior National Championships this past weekend. USAV, which had just Open and Club divisions at the Junior Olympics when I started covering the sport 20+ years ago; and expanded to five divisions several years ago; was seven divisions strong this year, adding Liberty and Freedom divisions. The hierarchy was as follows:


National No. 11 WAVE 18 Juliana, seeded 17th in the 48-team Open division, took home the title after winning semifinal and championship mail biters. That made two titles in Columbus, as WAVE 18-Dave did not lose in taking the 18 Patriot division.

Ultra-talented WAVE 18 Juliana, finally healthy, fulfilled the expectations in 18 Open. They were great.

“I knew my girls were ready,” said head coach Juliana Evens of the Open national champions. “We were finely healthy. We finally had everybody.”

WAVE did not win its six-team opening pool. The San Diego team dropped its second match on Day 1 to eventual pool winner AZ Rev 18 Premier, the No. 13 team nationally, but did not lose again. WAVE swept Gainesville Juniors 18/17 in its next match to get back on track, then defeated No. 5 Sunshine 18 LA, No. 1 Drive Nation 18 Red and No. 12 Premier Nebraska 18 Gold in the Gold Bracket to win the title.

Premier Nebraska 18 Gold, playing shorthanded, almost pulled off a miracle finish in 18 Open

For a coach like Evens, who led Cathedral Catholic in the fall to an undefeated season and state and national championships, THIS was a big deal.

“It’s the biggest accomplishment of my life as a coach,” she said. “I’ll never forget it.”

While there were many keys to victory — the leadership of setter Shanelle Puetz, strength in the middle and the play on the left of Jillian Neal chief among them, WAVE would not have won but for the play of OH Julia Blysahov.

Blyashov, a Stanford signee, and top national talent, turned an ankle while playing in the postseason for Cathedral Catholic. She had to sit out the Dons’ run to the Open title in California, then tried to come back too quickly during club ball, when her shoulder wasn’t ready. She spent the next…

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