USAV 16-17s: Day 3 Show Stoppers And More

There’s so much to get to as the third day of 16s and 17s continued on at USAV nationals in Las Vegas. However, nothing could top the developments in 16 Open. That’s because MKE Sting 16 Gold upset top-seeded and top-ranked Mintonette Sports m.61 in three sets, 14-25, 25-23, 16-14, in challenge play.

Sting, ranked No. 27 nationally, went 2-3 during the first round of pool play to finish in third place in Pool 5. Sting then went 1-1 in its three-team pool, falling to TAV 16 Black before beating Premier Nebraska 16 Gold. It certainly gave no indication that Sting would be able to rise to the occasion, but crazy things happen at nationals and Sting delivered the biggest blow imaginable in defeating the AAU 16 Open champion in Mintonette.

The morning round of pool play had its shockers as well. They mostly came in 17 Open, where MKE Sting 17 Gold, TAV 17 Black and OT 17 Aaron all were eliminated before challenge play. Sting came into nationals ranked No. 4 nationally, followed by TAV at No. 5 and OT Aaron at No. 7. To see none of them reach challenge play was a head scratcher.

MKE Sting was upset by No. 34 CUVC 17 Open in pool play and then was eliminated entirely with a loss to No. 8 Circle City 17 Purple.

OT Aaron was uprooted by No 20 Idaho Crush 17 Bower in its opening match. Even though OT Aaron managed to beat No. 1 Hou Skyline 17 Royal it didn’t matter. Hou Skyline still finished first followed by Idaho Crush as OT was knocked out based on tiebreakers.

TAV was surprised by No. 15 Mich Elite 17 Mizuno and then fell to No. 3 1st Alliance 17 Gold to have its shot at advancing squashed.

Nebraska One 17 Synergy, ranked No. 9, was also eliminated in pool play. Nebraska One lost to both No. 19 Coast 17-1 and No. 23 Dynasty 17 Black.

Surfside 17 Legends, ranked No. 10, lost its opener to No. 39 Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar. However, Surfside still finished first in its pool after sweeping No. 18 Legacy 17-1 Adidas.

Another storyline revolved around Wave 17 Juliana. Ranked No. 11 nationally, Wave struggled mightily in the first round of pool play going 1-4 and yet still advancing. However, Wave went 3-0 on Day 2, winning its pool then advancing to the quarterfinals after beating CUVC.

Surprisingly, there was not much drama once the challenge round hit. Only two of the eight contests went to three. One was No. 6 Skyline 17 Royal fending off No. 16 MAVS KC 17-1, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11. The other saw Mich Elite outlast Coast, 21-25, 25-20, 15-11.

Shifting gears to 16 Open, the most competitive pool based on rankings was Pool 5 featuring No. 4 Boiler Jrs 16 Gold, No. 8 Skyline 16 Royal and No. 10 Madfrog 16 Green. It was Skyline going 2-0, Madfrog 1-1 and Boiler Jrs 0-2.

Another tough pool was Pool 6 with No. 7 SCVC 16 Roxy, No. 9 A5 16-1 Gabe and No. 11 Wave 16 Scott. SCVC finished first at 2-0, followed by Wave at 1-1 and A5 at 0-2.

There was big upset in Pool 4 as No. 22 HJV 16 Elite took down No. 5 Austin Skyline 16 Royal. Both managed to advance as they both beat GP 16 Rox.

One more major upset featured No. 30 Vision 16 Gold sweeping No. 12 Hou Skyline 16 Royal. Vision lost to No. 32 Mizuno Long Beach 16 Rockstar in its earlier match and needed to beat Hou Skyline to have a shot at advancing. Vision wound up winning the pool while Hou Skyline took second and Long Beach was eliminated.

Like 17 Open, the 16 Open challenge matches didn’t carry as much drama as anticipated. Of course, there was the gigantic upset produced by Sting. That was just one of two contests to go the distance. The other featured No. 19 Pohaku 16-1 clipping Vision, 25-22, 24-26, 15-10.

1st Alliance 16 Gold, ranked No. 13 nationally, swept Hou Skyline in a mini surprise. Legacy and Austin Skyline were forced to square off, with Legacy sweeping 25-23, 25-21.

Not to be overlooked was the performance from Forza1 North 16 One. Ranked No. 20 nationally, Forza North stopped HJV in challenge play by sweeping 25-18, 25-23 to reach the quarterfinals.

Here’s how the 16 Open quarters stack up:

  • MKE Sting v 1st Alliance
  • Skyline v Forza North
  • Legacy v SCVC
  • Pohaku v TAV

 

Here’s how the 17 Open quarters look:

  • Skyline v Circle City
  • Hou Skyline v MIch Elite
  • 1st Alliance v Surfside
  • Wave v Arizona Storm

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DAY 3 SHOW STOPPERS

There was tons of high-level action everywhere. Narrowing our Day 3 Show Stoppers list down was a challenging task. Below, we list those who we felt stood out the most to us during our time watching them compete.

Reese Dunkle MB Circle City 17 Purple: Dunkle – a 4-star Stanford recruit – played a pivotal role in Circle City advancing to the quarterfinals. She brings a different dynamic to the front row. Her scoring ability really gives Circle City an added boost when she’s in. She’s also puts up a solid block and definitely made a tremendous impact.

Brookelyn Hatton L/DS MAVS KC 17-1: Hatton – a 4-star Arizona recruit – is unflappable in the back row. She brings a defensive tenacity to the floor and never gives up on a play. She’s a sharp passer out of serve receive and covers well at the net.

Addison Burke OH CUVC 17 Open: A 3-star Eastern Kentucky recruit, Burke was instrumental in CUVC upsetting MKE Sting and reaching the challenge rounds. She makes contributions all the way around as a six-rotation outside. She’s a smart attacker who knows how to score against bigger blocks.

Lalelei Hall RS Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar: A Fresno State recruit, Hall gave Long Beach a big lift on the right side in the team’s upset of Surfside in pool play. She was doing it all. She was getting a ton of touches at the net. She made an impressive dig to keep a rally going. And she showed her IQ in tooling and swiping the block when attacking.

Gabriella Babinski RS Mich Elite 17 Mizuno: A 3-star Georgia Southern commit, Babinski helped Mich Elite reach the quarterfinals. She was a big presence on the right side and provided a ton of offense. She was crushing balls cross court with authority over and over.

Reese Messer S Dynasty 17 Black: Messer – a 5-star USC recruit – is super smooth. She has incredible hands and a very high IQ. She’s quick to the ball and can turn off passes into really good looks for her hitters.

Aniya Warren L/DS 1st Alliance 17 Gold: A 4-star Indiana recruit, Warren is an energetic, vocal libero who performs well in key moments. She’s a lights-out passer and defender and can cover a lot of court in a hurry.

Hannah Kenny S 1st Alliance 17 Gold: Kenny – a 3-star Louisville recruit – is super valuable in her role. She’s a smart setter who moves the ball around and keeps defenses guessing. She can also step into serve receive in a certain rotations to help out as well as play high-level defense.

Izzy Mogridge S OT 17 Aaron: A 4-star Oregon recruit, Mogridge is a quick setter who dishes the ball effortlessly. She can spread the ball around and knows how to keep the defense on its toes.

Bellamie Beus OH ID Crush 17 Bower: Beus – a 4-star Kentucky commit from the Class of 2026 – packs a heavy arm and can absolutey hammer shots at times. She was on fire in the team’s upset victory over OT Aaron pool play.

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McKenna Garr L/DS Northern Lights 17-1: A 3-star Minnesota commit, Garr was among the standout defenders. She was passing spot on out of serve receive. She was also picking off hard-driven shots in her vicinity.

Mae Kordas RS Wave 17 Juliana: Kordas – a 3-star Yale recruit – is a presence on the right side. She has a big arm and can pound it down at times in giving Wave a lift offensively.

Taylor Harvey OH Club V 17 Ren Reed: Harvey – a 5-star Texas recruit – had Club V on the verge of the quarterfinals before falling to Arizona Storm. She gets way up in the air and can let it fly over the block with ease.

Simone Roslon OH Surfside 17 Legends: A 3-star recruit from the Class of 2026, Roslon showed up big in Surfside’s victory over Idaho Crush to reach the quarterfinals. She had a few thundering kills that fired up her teammates and kept the momentum going.

Sarah Hickman RS HJV 16 Elite: Hickman – a 4-star right side – had a huge match as HJV upset Austin Skyline in pool play. It helped HJV advance. Hickman was virtually unstoppable on the attack as her length allowed her to hit over the block. She also had a couple of timely blocks as well.

Nina Hemsley MB Forza1 North 16 One: A 3-star middle, Hemsley held it down in her role as Forza North reached the quarterfinals. Though she’s a bit undersized, she’s an effective scorer with her ability to find gaps in the defense. She also times up her blocks well and was making plays on that side of the ball as well.

Simone Heard OH Skyline 16 Royal: Heard – a 3-star recruit – had a massive day in helping Skyline make the quarterfinals. She was unstoppable as Skyline beat Boiler Jrs to start the day. She kept at it all the way through as Skyline downed Wave in challenge play. She gets off the ground in a hurry and unleashes in a flurry.

Elle Mottola S WPVC 16 Armour Black: Mottola – a 4-star recruit – is a smart setter with nice hands and a consistent release. She does well connecting with her hitters and putting them in favorable positions to score.

Addison West OH Premier Nebraska 16 Gold: A 3-star North Carolina recruit, West was having a match as Premier Nebraska pushed TAV to three sets to end pool play. She extends well and hits at a high contact point. She showed she can score from the front and back row too.

Brooke Baldwin S MKE Sting 16 Gold: Baldwin – a 3-star Rutgers commit – helped guide Sting to a massive upset over top-seeded Mintonette in challenge play. Running a 5-1, she was spreading the ball around and making life tough on the Mintonette defense.

***

Cassidy Bruns L/DS MKE Sting 16 Gold: A 4-star defender, Bruns came up large as well in Sting’s upset. She was tough to get a ball down on. She picked off many hard-hit shots to extend the rally.

Sara Snowbarger OH Mintonette Sports m.61: Snowbarger had a strong day. The 4-star Indiana commit came through time and time again. She does well extending and hitting from a high angle.

Ella Andrews MB Legacy 16-1 Adidas: A 5-star middle, Andrews was a huge factor on both sides of the ball. She was an effective scorer and caused havoc on defenses throughout the day. She also put up a solid block and scored points that way too.

Skylar Jackson OH Madfrog 16 Green: Jackson – a 3-star outside – had a big match against Skyline. Though Madfrog eventually lost, Jackson was bringing the heat on the outside and drilling winners to keep her team in the match.

Finley Krystkowiak OH Wave 16 Scott: A 5-star Penn State commit, Krystkowiak is a menace on the outside. Her size allows her to hammer shots over the block and down with force.

Audrey Flanagan OH SCVC 16 Roxy: Flanagan – a 5-star Wisconsin commit – has a whippy arm. When she connects with her lightning-quick arm, she sends absolute darts past defenders and down.

Blair Thiebaud S Hou Skyline 16 Royal: A 4-star Louisville commit, Thiebaud has soft hands and sets a clean ball. She can make tough sets look easy and does well moving the ball around and incorporating all her hitters.

Caroline Stickney S 575 VB 16-1 Taylor WS: Stickney establishes a strong rapport with her middle hitter, proving to be a pivotal option for her team. Her energy remains consistently high throughout the match against 540 VB 16 Nationals, staying focused on every point. Her precise footwork ensures consistency, allowing her to accurately square up to her targets.

Rumi Eichelberger MB 575 VB 16-1 Taylor WS: Eichelberger is prominently featured in the opening of the match against 540 VB 16 National due to her proficiency as a skilled middle blocker. Her ability to attack the ball from high positions and hit deep angles across the court played a crucial role in her team’s dominant performance over 540 VB 16 National.

Georgia Hite OH Rockwood Thunder 16 Navy: Hite transitions smoothly between the net and off-court to get ready to attack, maintaining a competitive edge throughout. Her quick arm swing allows her to attack effectively from any set, even in out-of-system plays, consistently exploiting open spots on the court against Red Rock 16 Katie.

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Saoirse Henderson MB Rockwood Thunder 16 Navy: A valuable tip for any team facing Rockwood Thunder 16 Navy is to avoid overpassing when Henderson is at the net. She quickly shuts down such opportunities, turning them into points for her team. Her dominance at the net was clear against Red Rock 16 Katie.

Taylor Fenton MB SA Force 161 Darkside: Fenton’s presence on the court for SA Force 161 Darkside is captivating the attention with her vibrant play. In the match against 360 16 Kaos Black, she showcased her ability to execute crucial plays as a middle blocker, proving her competence at an exceptionally high level. Fenton’s versatility and precise angles in her attacks make her unpredictable and difficult for opponents to anticipate, maintaining a competitive advantage.

Madison Libson OH SA Force 161 Darkside: Libson excels at running a fast offense with her quick arm swing and confident play. In the match against 360 16 Kaos Black, she consistently demonstrated her ability to execute rapid attacks, making her a formidable presence on the court. Her self-assured approach and speed contribute significantly to her team’s offensive success.

Emma Reeves S MadFrog 16 N Black: Reeves establishes herself as an exceptional leader on the court, skillfully directing momentum and inspiring her teammates. She keeps opponents off balance with her strategic plays, opening the match against NOVA Juniors 16s Navy with a powerful assist out of the middle, demonstrating their determination to compete.

Annie Fulton RS/OH MadFrog 16 N Black: As a pin hitter, Fulton is incredibly dynamic and swift on the court. She stands out not only for her powerful attacks but also for her ability to elevate her teammates’ performance. Fulton reads the plays on the other side of the net thoroughly and sets her block accordingly, demonstrating excellent defensive awareness. Her energy on the court is infectious, making her a valuable asset to her team.

Mya Lei-Butters L/DS Iowa Powerplex 16U Mendoza: PowerPlex relies on Lei-Butters as a steadfast and dependable defensive player. Her serve receive was unparalleled in the game against Circle City 16 Black. She is constantly on the move, hustling for every ball and making crucial defensive plays.

Ava Groetek RS Iowa Powerplex 16U Mendoza: In the first set against Circle City 16 Black, Groetek dominated the court, getting on top of the ball and delivering powerful swings down the line that disrupted their defense. She also put up a massive block, making it incredibly challenging for the outside hitter to find any openings. Ava was unstoppable.

Chloe Garcia S 305 VBC 16N Alan: Garcia demonstrates excellent court awareness, accurately predicting the pass trajectory to position herself effectively. She cleverly disguises her sets as over dumps, showcasing her strategic play at the net when the ball is close. Her quick release keeps Tstreet 16-Katie’s defense off balance, contributing to her team’s offensive advantage.

Luiza Bergamaschi OH 305 VBC 16N Alan: In the opening moments of the first set against Tstreet 16-Katie, Bergamaschi made a spectacular one-handed dig down the line. Her competitive spirit and dedication are unmistakable whenever she takes the court, influencing her dynamic play.

Kamora Mack S Loudoun 16: Mack adeptly turns imperfect passes into scoring opportunities for her team against LAVA West 16 Premier. Her exceptional communication skills and proactive leadership on the court enhance team coordination and effectiveness.

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Annika Cortez OH Loudoun 16: Cortez’s rock-solid platform on serve receive and defense ensures consistent play execution, maximizing scoring opportunities for her team. Additionally, her challenging floater served aces against LAVA West 16 Premier multiple times, further contributing to her team’s success.

Neal Grace Berry RS/OH Cajun Elite 17U: Berry demonstrates exceptional skill in covering down the line with open-hand digs, maintaining precise control over anything above her head. Her prowess extends to blocking effectively on the right side against SA Elite 171 Navy. Additionally, Berry’s well-rounded abilities include a formidable float serve that disrupts their opponent’s offense.

Laurel Cassidy L Cajun Elite 17U: Cassidy consistently made hard-driven digs against SA Elite 171 Navy’s pin hitter, often turning them into immediate points for her team. Her precise ball control effortlessly directs the ball to her target, and she excels at passing outside her body with remarkable skill.

Madison Evans S Club V Ren Kyle: Evans’ competitive drive and commitment to high standards are evident in her performance against SVA 17-Joe. Early in the match, she strategically set up her middle hitter, establishing confidence with her and commanding respect from their opponents—an astute move by Madison. At 3-3, Evans executed a top-tier dump into the middle of the court when the opposing team least expected it, demonstrating that they need to stay on their toes whenever she’s on the other side of the net.

Hailey Clark MB Club V Ren Kyle: Clark came out strong in the first set against SVA 17-Joe, leveraging her height and reach to dominate at the net, attacking from various angles with precision. Her synergy with her setter was impeccable, making her attacks virtually unstoppable.

Trinity Richey S MadFrog 17 National Black: Richey  looks incredibly fluid when setting, showcasing a variety of sets that enhance her team’s offensive strategy. She hustles to every pass, getting her hands up quickly, and performs with grace and intensity. Her passion and skill are evident in every play against the Arizona Storm 17 Lightening.

Ella Willenborg L MadFrog 17 National Black: Willenborg is a dependable passer with a solid platform, making her a reliable option for MadFrog 17 National Black to receive in-system passes. She exemplifies the idea that everything begins with a strong pass. She demonstrates excellent court movement and confidently takes charge of difficult plays, ensuring her team maintains control throughout the match against Arizona Storm 17 Lightning.

Larissa Foster RS Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar T: Foster possesses a powerful arm, allowing her to drive through blocks and target sharp angles on the court. She plays each point with remarkable determination and consistently focuses on transitioning quickly to become a reliable option for her setter in the match against Club Cactus 17-Mizuno.

Kennedy Knight L/DS MIDTN 17 Black: Knight opened up the game with a great float serve, immediately putting ICON VBC 17 Adidas out of system. Her serve receive platform is solid and dependable, consistently providing accurate passes that keep her team in control. She is constantly moving in the backcourt, effectively reading the opponent’s offense and positioning herself for successful plays.

Lillie Meinhart S MIDTN 17 Black: Meinhart, playing against ICON VBC 17 Adidas, is a talented setter with a positive attitude and excellent communication skills. Her strong defense and court awareness allow her to make quick, strategic decisions, enhancing her effectiveness and overall impact on the team.

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Ale Romo OH/L Areté 17 Navy Telos: Romo was instrumental in her team’s victory against MAVS 816 17-1. She showcased exceptional footwork, covering deep angle shots and delivering precise over-the-shoulder passes to her target. Her serve receive was stellar, maintaining a solid platform and consistently delivering perfect passes. Additionally, she made numerous hard-driven swings cross court where there was no coverage on the opposing team.

Carolina Ufret S Areté 17 Navy Telos: Ufret demonstrates exceptional agility in getting to the ball, timing her jumps well and releasing quickly. She is a resilient setter, maintaining high intensity throughout the match. Her strong effort in rallies is commendable and impactful on the court, especially against MAVS 816 17-1.

Katelynn Mundy PIN 575 17-1 Ella: Mundy demonstrates strategic play without overcomplicating things, emphasizing that scoring points on the right side doesn’t always require sheer power. Her reliability was evident in the match against ASEVC 17 Premier, where her excellent court movement contributed significantly.

Hadley Sparks OH 575 17-1 Ella: Sparks showcases remarkable versatility on the court, mastering digging and passing from the back row, and unleashing potent attacks from difficult angles in the game against ASEVC 17 Premier. Her keen court awareness consistently translates into points, benefiting her team throughout the match against ASEVC 17 Premier.

Riley Lynch MB/RS VA Juniors 17 Elite: Lynch effortlessly establishes a strong block against the pin hitter. Playing against Niagara Frontier 17 Red, she demonstrates dynamic play by perfectly timing blocks with her middle, executing multiple blocks in the first set. This makes them an effective duo. Her skill in neutralizing the opponent’s pin hitter caused a notable change in their offensive tactics. She also has a powerful angled swing, capable of clearing the block.

Suzie Ponce L/DS Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar T: Ponce’s presence spans the entire court with her speed and agility, ensuring full coverage. Her adept ball control on serve receive and infectious energy uplift her teammates, setting them up for success.

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