AAU 14 Open: Day 1 Show Stoppers And More

Two teams came through in big ways on the opening day of 14 Open at the AAU national championships in Orlando. One was Top Select 14 Elite. The other was CUVC 14 Open. It’s hard to say which one had the better day, but both took first place in their respective pools in unexpected fashion.

Top Select opened as the No. 3 team in Pool F yet went 3-0 on Day 1. It included upsetting Kairos 14 Alpha, ranked No. 44 in Vballrecruiter’s Top 50. Top Select also upended Iowa Select 14 Mizuno and Adversity 14 Adidas to take over the No. 6 seed spot for Day 2.

As for CUVC, the club was the No. 4 team in Pool K. But after finishing in a two-way tie at 2-1 with Wildfire 14 Open, the No. 11 overall seed, CUVC earned the tiebreaker based on the head-to-head result and thus finished in first place.

It was an eventful day in Pool F. While CUVC was moving up, MN Select 14-1 and Academy 14 Fuego tied at 1-2. MN Select, the No. 2 team in the pool, was on the wrong side of the tiebreaker and finished in fourth. As a result, MN Select was one of 12 teams eliminated from contention Thursday.

NE Elite 14 Koa was another No. 2 team to be knocked out along with MN Select. There were eight No. 4 teams which were eliminated as well.

Though it’s typically a slow start at AAUs, Day 1 did feature one contest between teams ranked in our Top 50. It was between OT 14 Laura, the No. 1 team in Pool G, and Mintonette Sports m.41, the No. 2 team. OT entered ranked No. 22 nationally and Mintonette No. 34. Both happened to receive at-large entries into 14 Open at USAV nationals next month in Las Vegas. Mintonette prevailed to finish the day 3-0 and take first place in the pool.

On the day, the 13 nationally-ranked teams in our Top 50 combined to go 34-5. None were eliminated.

The action will slowly start to heat up on Day 2. There are six matches between nationally-ranked teams slated for Friday. One features No. 12 Munciana 14 Chipmunks against OT Laura.

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SHOW STOPPERS

Below is our Day 1 Show Stoppers featuring those players who stood out and caught our attention the most.

Juliana Lugo S/RS Wildfire 14 Open: A 6-1 setter/right side, Lugo has plenty of upside. She had a consistent release when running the offense. She was also able to score when called upon when hitting.

Julia Clarke MB A5 14-1 Helen: Clarke – a 6-2 middle – was a big-time factor at the net. She used her height to impact both sides of the ball with her blocking and attacking.

Brynlee Opland L/DS Northern Lights 14-1: Opland brought a lot to the floor defensively. She’s a sound, consistent passer. She also reads well and puts herself in position to make plays.

Ella Zieske OH Northern Lights 14-1: Zieske – a 3-star, 5-10 outside – provides a fair share of the offense. She has a solid arm and can really connect at times and deliver loud kills.

Brielle Gunderson MB Northern Lights 14-1: Gunderson did well making herself available and being a real threat offensively. When in system, Lights was looking to get her involved as she provided offense out of the middle.

Meredith Liles OH Academy 14 Diamond: Liles, at 6-1, was one of the standout outsides. She jumps well, extends and hits at a high contact point and was scoring consistently across the front row.

Chloe Burbage S Academy 14 Diamond: A 6-0 setter, Burbage caught our attention with her ability to direct and run the offense. She did well taking off-target passes and still putting the ball in a hittable window.

Elyse Brisson OH NE Elite 14 Koa: Brisson added punch to the offense. She showed a strong ability to score and mix her shots up from hitting with power to placing off-speed balls.

Elyse Mead OH Empowered 14 Elite Black: Mead is a bit undersized but she’s relentless on the attack. She was taking aggressive swings and not holding back as she put shots away consistently.

Lyla Tindall OH Empowered 14 Elite Black: Tindall also was providing a lift offensively. There were moments when she would catch one and drill it down in style.

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Ava Broadie OH Peak 14 Black: Broadie showed up well as a six-rotation outside. She was bringing it on the attack. She has a lively arm and lets it rip.

Kyra Bolden RS Peak 14 Black: Bolden is an athletic right side who gets off the ground well. She was a key part of the offense and was coming through time and time again.

Saylor Halvorsen MB SAVC 14 Premier: A 6-1 middle, Halvorsen was part of a 1-2 punch in the middle that made life difficult on opponents. She’s active on both sides of the ball and was making her presence felt both blocking and swinging.

Malie Ogbechie MB SAVC 14 Premier: Ogbechie is the other half of the middle duo for Sports Academy. She’s strong offensively and swings with authority.

Siri Maciej RS MN Select 14-1: A lefty right-side, Maciej is a key part of the offense. She takes a lot of swings all across the front row and was delivering kills on the regular.

Ayva Jennings OH MN Select 14-1: Jennings showed off her potential. She was coming through when called upon and was carrying her share of the attack.

Neysa Allen MB MN Select 14-1: A 6-0 middle who is close to touching 10 feet, Allen puts up a massive block and is a physical attacker. She moves well laterally and it’s part of why she has huge upside.

Jordyn Blair MB K2 14-1 Adidas: Blair is another middle with lots of potential. At 6-3, her presence at the net is big. She was making plays on both sides of the ball and changed the dynamic of the front row when she checked in.

Gabrielle Hatlevig OH Iowa Select 14 Mizuno: Hatlevig, a 3-star recruit, was getting after it. She’s a handful on the attack. She contacts at a high point and jumps well and with it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

Ava Lazar OH OT 14 Alex: A 3-star recruit, Lazar was another outside who really stood out with her play. She has length and is tough to stop because of it. She can swing over blocks at times and send it down.

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Lila Varitek L/DS OT 14 Alex: Varitek was handling business on the defensive end. She was passing well out of serve receive and keeping rallies alive.

Lauren Williams MB Tri-State Elite 14 Blue: A 3-star middle, Williams is a tough cover in the middle with her length. She can go over or around blocks and is a legit scoring threat defenses need to keep track of.

Lowe Long OH Tri-State Elite 14 Blue: Long – a 5-11, 3-star recruit – was delivering on offense. She has a smooth swing and when the opportunity is there can let it fly.

Adelyn Price L/DS Mem Metro 14 Elite Blk: Price was playing well in the back row. She was passing consistently and was making saves off big swings.

Naja Thigpen OH Triangle 14 Black: Thigpen is a smart hitter who finds ways to score. She has a solid arm and can hit with power.

Amelia Soccorso L/DS Triangle 14 Black: Count Soccorso among the defenders who had us taking notice. She plays under the control and doesn’t miss many plays that come her way.

Maddie Gonyeau S Triangle 14 Black: Gonyeau displayed a clean, consistent release. She also had sound location.

Decelise Champion OH K1 Bayamon 14: A 5-star recruit from the Class of 2027, Champion is a force and menace. At 6-4, she’s long and lanky and can get way up and over the block, whether hitting front or back row.

Haedyn Lynnes L/DS Dynasty 14 Black: Lynnes, a 3-star recruit, was an anchor defensively with her ability to pass and cover the back row.

Leilani Lamar OH OT 14 Laura: A 5-star recruit, the 6-2 Lamar has a bright future. She can swing over blocks with ease and is hard to slow down when she gets it going.

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Izzie Penrose L/DS OT 14 Laura: Penrose – a 4-star defender – is smooth in the back row. She’s a sharp passer who sees and reacts well.

Zoey Horn L/DS Lions 14 Navy: Horn demonstrated exceptional coverage skills, seamlessly stepping in for the setter when needed. Her precise serving placement was on full display during the game against 575 VB 14-2 Jordan LP, where she went on an impressive serving streak, contributing significantly to the team’s success.

Camryn Utz S Lions 14 Navy: With her outstanding court vision, she effortlessly spots open teammates, ensuring accurate positioning with her sets. She knows how to utilize all of her players and directs the flow of the game with confidence whilst making crucial decisions that led to her team to a win against 575 vb 14-2 Jordan LP.

Ava Palandri OH Lions 14 Navy: Palandri is a truly well-rounded player, she showcases remarkable versatility both in the back row and at the net. Whether she’s delivering powerful hits, making crucial defensive saves, or setting up plays, her adaptability and skill make her a valuable asset to the team in every position.

Carson Rowan OH/DS Triangle 14 Blue OH/DS: Rowan has quick and dynamic feet on the court which is essential for an outside hitter, enabling timely reactions and maintaining balance when she is defending. As a result of her next level agility, her setter gave her opportunities against Five1 14-Black to execute back row attacks and she did just that.

Jill Canady MB Triangle 14 Blue MB: Canady is a vital component of both offense and defense with her strong block that she puts up and her great connection with her setter allows her heavy arm swing out of the middle to succeed every time. Their timing seems to always be perfect.

Ella Twitty OH Triangle 14 Blue OH: Twitty’s smooth platform and strong jump float serve proved to be a winning combination, she opened the set against Boiler Jrs 142E Black with 3 aces. She was passing dimes the entire match and keeping balls alive in the back court. Additionally, she is an active player at the pin and can find the openings through and around the block.

Reagan Futa L/DS Munciana 14 Chipmunks L/DS: Futa has a solid platform and it is clear that the Munciana Chipmunks can rely on her to be able to give them  in-system opportunities. She is the definition of “it all starts with a great pass.” She moves well on the court and has no problem taking charge when it comes to going for a ball.

Ja’maria Jackson MB Munciana 14 Chipmunks: Jackson stays ready on the court and when she is presented an opportunity she 100 percent delivers. Out of the middle she is a powerful force to be reckoned with. She finds the court extremely well when attacking and no opponent has a quick enough reaction to even try to dig her.

Ella Hasner L/DS A5 14-2 Earl L/DS: Hasner demonstrated excellent court awareness, positioning herself perfectly and getting her feet to every ball. Her court vision and high-level footwork lead her team to victory against Adrenaline USA 14 Red St.

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Mali Nyankori A5 14-2 Earl: Nyankori puts up a big block creating a strong defense and displays incredible agility at the net, consistently making smart decisions to transition off the net, ensuring her setter has plenty of opportunities to set the middle effectively.

Evelyn Treat RS A5 14-2 Earl: As a right side player, Treat excels at attacking sharp angles often catching opponents off guard on the court and possesses an impressive reach for her age, allowing her to dominate at the net. ​​Her dynamic style of play and strategic approach make her a great addition to A5 14-2 Earl.

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