Volleyball: Festival featured talent

The Volleyball Festival held at the Phoenix Convention Center hosted over 525 teams from Brazil to Canada with many teams from Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The Opening Ceremonies was held at Chase Field which is the indoor baseball stadium for the Diamondbacks baseball team.

Complete with fireworks and a march-in of all the teams, it was very exciting for the Orange County Volleyball Club girls.

The five-day tournament was an outstanding experience for the girls. The OCVBC 17 Blue team won the 17s championship, which was played at the US Airways Arena on the same court that the Phoenix Suns play (we were looking for Steve Nash to appear).

The 17s, coached by Scott Bruce and UCI volleyball standout Larissa Nordyke, defeated Seaside of Canada in an exciting semifinal match and Surf City in the final, both in three games. Surf City featured the backcourt play of Newport's Tilly Lumpkin. OCVBC 17s were led by outside hitters Hailey Senske (Corona del Mar), Allie Cook and Sarah Buckingham (Newport Harbor), setter Megan Griffin, backcourt specialists Katelyn Baker and Tabi Goff, middle blockers Megan Reza and Morgan Pautsch, as well as rightsiders Avae Masaniai and Devyn Jackson.

OCVBC's top 16s team was the top seed as the tournament began and played very well. Unfortunately, the team matched up with Club Vaqueros from Puerto Rico in the first round of the playoffs. They had beaten the Vaqueros in pool play but were not prepared for the loud cheering of the Puerto Ricans. They must have brought half of the island for their early morning match. After losing to the Puerto Rico team, OCVBC proceeded to march through the bottom bracket playing five matches on Thursday and two more early Friday morning to make the finals. The first Friday morning match was with the same Puerto Rican team who fell in two straight.

In the 16s final, OCVBC 16 Blue beat Santa Monica two straight games to force a one game final. Unfortunately, the burden of the tournament took its toll and Santa Monica won. OCVBC was led by libero Tatum Norton, setters Jordan Alessi and Nikki Borchard, middle blockers Alexandra Holbrook and Britton Taylor, as well as outside hitters Ashley Cox and Amy Cultra and all-around players Kasey Thompson and Carla Cantarella.

The OCVBC 15 White team finished fourth overall with a loss to a very tall Canada Prospects team. Coaches Andrew Mabry and Taryn Robertson did an outstanding job with outside hitters Nicole Werline, Elise Frydendall, Madison Haly and Taylor Dennison, as well as middle hitters Jenna Johnson and Brooke Dunning and back court specialists Nicky Fitzsimmons, Sydney Larson and Luna Tsujimoto.

Setting was Erica Tsujimoto.

Darryl Gan's OCVBC 13 Blue team finished eighth in the 13s tournament. His team featured outside hitters Katie Craig and Brooke Schweitzer, setters Maddy Abbott and Bryana Boyd, middle blockers Kekai Whitford, Kristen Kiehnle, and Colette Vigil, as well as back court players Logan Grove and Paige FauntleyRoy.

OCVBC's 12s team was coached by Marcos Sanchez and Taylor Govaars.

Led by back court play of Payton Carter and Maddison Deason, outside hitting of Remy Wilson, Jacqueline LeVecke, and Cassidy Kofoed, the middle hitting of Jacquelyne Ghindia, Alicia Muller, and Makena Martin, and the all-around play of Chloe Sluder and Amanda Walker, the Fighting 12s finished a very strong 19th after entering the tournament seeded 31st.

An outstanding performance was exhibited by the OCVBC 15 Red who won the Camaraderie Division of the Festival. Coached by Ashlie Bosza and Chelsea Ellis, 15 Red was led by outside hitting of Lily Anderson, Leilani Valenzuela and Zoey Story, the middle hitting of Liz Geocaris, Anastasia Colombo and Allison Molstad, the libero play of Michelle Culp, as well as the setting of Sarah Daly, Madison Pautsch, and Tiana Garbett. The final day of the tournament is one that many of these players will remember for the rest of their lives.

Orange County Volleyball Club also had two teams entered at the Junior National Championships in Reno, Nev. OCVBC 18 Roxy coached by Orange Coast College men's coach Travis Turner, finished ninth with Newport's Katey Thompson, Kelly Heenan, and Kirby Burnham as well as CdM's Madie Smith all playing their last junior tournament together after seven years in OCVBC. Maddie Brown who started on Newport's state championship team, played for Surf City who finished 23rd overall.

OCVBC 15 Blue had an outstanding showing with a seventh-place finish.

Newport's Hunter Jennings, Carolyn Bockrath, Torey and Tristan Thompson and Reegan Dennis who plays at Orange Lutheran, as well as CdM's Grace Kennedy, Shannon Griffin, Katie Curci, and Katey Senske, all played major roles in the success. CdM's Kelsey Humphreys played for Laguna Beach who also finished seventh in the 15 Open.

This is a great time for each of these players to end their club season on a successful note as they prepare for their summer high school programs.

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