DALLAS, Tex. (July 6, 2016) — After a heartbreaking loss in the 2015 16 Open Final, Balboa Bay’s 17 Blue (Southern California) started this season with one goal in mind: get back to the championship match and avenge last year’s loss to Spectrum Volleyball club (Southern California). 

The team completed its journey on Wednesday with a 25-13, 25-23 championship win against Spectrum 17s. 

“We’ve been training for this all year,” opposite Garrett Halsey said. “We had this in the back of our minds all year that we were going to come here and play Spectrum in the finals, and bring it to them. That’s what we did and it’s amazing.”

Halsey and teammate Cole Pender combined for 22 kills in the match, including match point by Halsey. Strong defense, anchored by libero Cole Paxson and dynamic setting by Carlos Rivera-Vega allowed Balboa Bay’s versatile offense to frustrate Spectrum in Set 1. However, Spectrum answered with a strong block early in the second set, capitalizing on Balboa Bay errors and forcing the champions to come from behind late in the set.

“All year we’ve had to build, and we’ve had some setbacks against other clubs in our area that are really good. We’ve had to keep fighting, and it all came together,” Balboa Bay Head Coach Andy Read said. “We made some really good reads and adjustments on defense, but they had to do it all.” 

As a club, Balboa Bay won all five of the national championships it played for, capping a remarkable run for the Costa Mesa-based club. For Balboa Bay 17 Blue, the undefeated run was even more significant after Cole Paxson and Jack Mathews were selected to the U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team and missed key practice time prior to BJNCs in order to compete at the NORCECA U19 Continental Championships in Havana, Cuba. Additionally, Pender and Spencer Olivier were members of the Boys’ Youth National Training Team. 

“We had to move guys to other positions and our guys just said, ‘We can play volleyball,” Read said. “Anytime you can represent the USA, you put USA on your chest, it means everything to wear USA. So I told them, ‘You have to go.'”

In the 13 Club final, 352 Elite 13 Boys Lime (Florida) was determined to repeat as national champions after winning the 2015 12 Club title. However, the team’s goal was nearly derailed on Tuesday when 352 fell behind 19-11 against SCVC 13 Quiksilver in the second set. 

“We rallied and came back to win 25-23, and I think that gave us the confidence to beat Puerto Rico (Borniquen Coqui) in the semifinals and win again,” INSERT #1’s NAME said. 

Other tournament highlights for the young team?

Defeating Puerto Rico in the semifinal, #10 said, and getting to be on this team and making all new friends, #6 added. 

The 2016 Boys’ Junior National Championships saw more than 460 teams compete for 12 division titles in Dallas, Texas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Co-hosted by the Dallas Sports Commission, the event also featured junior national championships for both USA Boxing and USA Fencing, as well as three FIVB World League matches for the U.S. Men’s National Team, July 1-3. 

17 Open
Gold: Balboa Bay 17 Blue (SC)
Silver: Spectrum 17s (SC)
Bronze: Team Rockstar 17-1 (SC)
Bronze: SMBC 17 Adidas (SC)

17 Club
 Wave 17 Brennan (SC)
Silver: Aspire 17 – Rox (AZ)
Bronze: Balboa Bay 17 White (SC)
Bronze: MEVBC 17 (NE)

13 Club
Gold: 352 Elite 13 Boys Lime (FL)
Silver: OCVC 13s (SC)
Bronze: Borinquen Coqui 13-1 (PU)
Bronze: MVVC 13-1 Red (NC)